Sir Alex Ferguson claimed last night that the gamesmanship of "typical Germans" delivered a stunning Champions League defeat for his side at Bayern Munich's hands, which left England with no competitor in the tournament's semi-finals for the first time in seven years.
Arjen Robben's immaculate volley on 74 minutes saw Bayern Munich reap revenge for the 1999 final defeat and progress at Manchester United's expense, on away goals after the home side had led 3-0. It finished 3-2, but Rafael da Silva's dismissal five minutes after the interval prompted Ferguson to make the claim that Bayern had targeted "a young boy" who was "inexperienced". Ferguson said: "They got him sent off. Everyone sprinted over to the referee – typical Germans. No doubt about it, the sending-off changed it. Bayern would never have won that game. With 11 men there was no problem."
Ferguson also accused Bayern of deliberately targeting Wayne Rooney, whom he gambled on playing but will miss Sunday's trip to Blackburn with another pulled right ankle joint. He was twice kicked by Daniel van Buyten – on his right ankle, then his right calf – and hobbling around Old Trafford before the interval. "We expected that. The referee is meant to handle that," Ferguson said.
The Bayern manager, Louis van Gaal, dismissed this. "I thought England was noted for fairness but now I've been confronted by three [negative] comments," he said. "That's not what I call fair play."
The Brazilian's first yellow was justifiably awarded for a petulant, retaliatory hack at Mark von Bommel, though the second, for impeding Franck Ribéry, looked harsh. Van Gaal said Rafael had lacked self-control. "I don't share Sir Alex's opinion. Part of being a professional footballer is control. Every player knows that if you pick up one yellow card, another one means a sending-off. Every player should know that."
Ferguson admitted that deploying Rooney had been something of a "gamble" and the England manager, Fabio Capello, may have been concerned, having believed only on Tuesday morning the striker would not be risked. In the end Ferguson dared not persist with Rooney longer than the 55th minute, sending on John O'Shea in his place.
Within an hour of the final whistle, Ferguson had dropped the xenophobia from his analysis of the game, describing Bayern instead as "typical professionals" in the way they "almost forced the ref to give the [red] card out." He said: "We've seen that before in teams like that." Ferguson refused to dish out criticism to the 19-year-old Brazilian full-back, declaring his to have been a "marvellous performance."
He added: "All English teams are expected to get to the semi-finals. I don't think it casts a shadow over the game that none have. Ours is still the best league in Europe, a very competitive league. You don't always get what you want in life."
United now face the possibility of taking only the Carling Cup this season. "We have to win our next five games now. It's straightforward. There's no other issue for us. We have to go for it," Ferguson reflected.
The 4-4 aggregate result sent United out on away goals and took Bayern to their first semi-final since 2001 – the year they also sent out United in the quarter-finals. Bayern face Lyons, who lost 1-0 to Bordeaux but won 3-2 on aggregate.
Semi-final draw: Key details
Internazionale v Barcelona, Tuesday 20 & Wednesday 28 April
Bayern Munich v Lyons, Wednesday 21 & Tuesday 27 AprilReuse content