Robben strike ends 10-man United's Euro hopes

Manchester United 3 Bayern Munich 2 (aggregate 4-4, Bayern win on away goals)

Ten-man Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League on away goals thanks to Arjen Robben's wonder strike at Old Trafford.

From a seemingly impregnable position, three goals ahead of Bayern Munich on the night and two in front on aggregate, the Red Devils' world collapsed in a six-minute spell either side of the interval.

First-leg match-winner Ivica Olic pulled a goal back immediately before the break after Nani had followed up Darron Gibson's early opener by scoring two of his own.

The goal put doubt in United minds that turned into panic once Rafael had been sent off for a second bookable offence shortly after the restart.

United tried desperately to hang on.

But just as the thought started to ferment that they might manage it, Robben escaped to the far post and rocketed a volley beyond Edwin van der Sar after fellow winger Franck Ribery had dropped a perfect corner into his path.

It was a gut-wrenching climax, that leaves the Premier League without a semi-final representative for the first time since 2003 and United shattered after the biggest week of their season ended in total misery, with only an outside chance of the title to cling to and a dressing room of shattered bodies, physically and mentally, to revive.

It had all started so magnificently too after Ferguson had named Wayne Rooney in his starting line-up after all.

Such is the subterfuge involved in top-level combat these days, Ferguson's declaration that there was "no chance" of his star striker being involved was just part of a game.

Yet, no matter how many potential line-ups Louis van Gaal had gone through in his mind, it is a fair assumption that Gibson did not feature in any of them.

When Ferguson has talked the Republic of Ireland international up as a potential star of the future, few have tended to believe him.

Clearly the United boss does have faith, and what an inspired choice it proved to be.

Barely two minutes had passed when Rafael swept the ball forward to Rooney, whose lay-off was collected by Gibson.

If Hans-Jorg Butt had done his homework, he would have known the Derry-born youngster tends to get his goals from outside the area. His startled look as the ball flashed past him suggested an obvious lack of revision.

It was the start United craved, only it was to get even better when Antonio Valencia, a constant menace down the right, sent over one of a number of dangerous crosses.

Just as Joe Cole had done at the other end on Saturday, Nani got himself to the near post and flicked the ball into the far corner with his heel.

Old Trafford erupted, in precisely the manner Ferguson knew they would when he spoke about the feeling of a ball being sucked into the opponents' goal on those special Old Trafford nights, of which he has had so many.

Bayern were completely bewildered, both by the team they were facing and the whirlwind that had hit them.

Rafael, Rooney and Gibson combined again, this time to send the youngster through, only for the full-back to suffer an untimely bout of nerves as the goal stared back and he fired wide.

Yet just as the half started in a goal burst, so it ended the same way.

Once more Valencia the architect, once more Nani supplied the finish, and the elaborate celebration.

The sense of euphoria lasted two minutes, the time it took for Olic to shrug Michael Carrick aside and find the bottom corner with Bayern's first decent chance.

If Edwin van der Sar had not brilliantly turned away a curling shot from Robben that was heading for the bottom corner, United would actually have reached half-time behind on away goals, so precarious was their advantage.

Amid all the goalmouth incident, another pivotal moment had gone largely unnoticed. Rafael's petulant kick at Mark van Bommel came back to haunt him four minutes after the restart when he tugged Franck Ribery back.

The sight of the Bayern players converging on referee Nicola Rizzoli demanding a red card was unseemly. The decision itself was correct.

Rafael's dismissal brought Rooney's involvement to an end as John O'Shea was introduced for the first time in five months to shore up the defensive gap and begin a rearguard action that required resistance to almost constant bombardment.

United tried to break. Indeed Nani nearly scored his hat-trick from one such raid, but the overwhelming pressure was one-way.

Even then it took a phenomenal goal to defeat the hosts as Robben's perfectly-executed volley flew past Van der Sar into the far corner.

United did not have the energy to respond.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living