With everything at stake, Manchester United just would not break.
In control of most of the match, Bayern Munich could only muster one tally in Old Trafford, leaving England with a 1-1 draw.
Bayern flooded the attacking third with possession and through balls, but the forward waves crashed against Manchester United's levies. The Red Devils squeezed the ball forward as fast as they could, but the Bayern defense plugged the holes before goals leaked into the back of the net.
Shinji Kagawa and Mario Mandžukić flipped the script in the second frame, sparking and muscling their respective attacks. Nemanja Vidić redirected a Wayne Rooney corner kick in the 58th minute into the far post to open the scoring, but Bayern retaliated quickly when Mandžukić headed down a cross for Bastian Schweinsteiger to slap into the top of the net.
Having won its previous two meetings in England, Bayern could not grab a third, but will pack an away goal in its suitcase for the return leg. The task at hand now merely involved keeping a clean sheet in the Allianz.
Here are some thoughts on the match, the worst away result in the Champions League this season for Bayern.
- With Mandžukić and Dante not in the side, the one advantage Manchester United utilized was in the air. Vidić and Rio Ferdinand both ricocheted aerial service in defense, and Welbeck brought down the cannon balls cast to him from midfield. The Red Devils stuck a goal in the chink of the armor when Vidic hammered in the first goal through the air for Manchester United in the Champions League. The fortunes changed when Mandzukic eventually came on and provided air support.
- Although Rooney, Valencia, and Welbeck were putting quality pressure on the back line, Jérôme Boateng and Javier Martínez handled it well. The pair squiggled passes to its midfielders, although the pressure drew the defenders a little wide.The space open real-estate only became problematic when Lahm was higher up the pitch, especially when Welbeck got the best of Boateng late in the first half.
- Guardiola employed a flexible front for the second time in three matches, the tactic proving successful for the purpose it was intended for. The interchangeable parts along the attack were able to take advantage of many spaces in the penalty area. Phil Jones and Alexander Büttner mowed the open pastures throughout the match, congesting the attack in the middle and opening the flanks. With Manchester United playing so deep, it was tough for RobbérMü to get in behind.
- The latent advantage to Bayern's depth is the talent still apparent in the face of card accumulation. Even with Martínez and Schweinsteiger suspended for the next match, Pep Guardiola has several options at his disposal. Philipp Lahm will have to play in midfield again, but Guardiola probably wants him there regardless.