Champions League: Bayern Munich, Atletico earn away draws
Barcelona, Manchester United unable to record victories at home
Manchester United confounded grim pre-game predictions by drawing 1-1 with Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, with Bastian Schweinsteiger equalizing for the holders before being sent off.
Floundering in the English Premier League, United has delivered better performances in Europe this season and stunned Bayern by taking the lead against the run of play through Nemanja Vidic's header in the 58th minute.
Bayern had dominated possession but struggled to create a clear-cut chance before Schweinsteiger arrowed a half-volley high into the net in the 67th to give the German side a slight advantage ahead of the second leg in Munich next week.
"We score away, so it's good," Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said. "I'm happy with the result."
Schweinsteiger blotted his performance by picking up a second yellow card in the 90th minute for a foul on Wayne Rooney and will miss the return match along with fellow midfielder Javi Martinez, who will also be suspended for an accumulation of bookings.
Guardiola warned that talk of United's demise was premature, and the man who turned Barcelona into the best team in the world from 2008-12 has proved to be a good judge of football over the past few years.
The English champions are languishing in seventh place in the Premier League amid a disastrous first year under new manager David Moyes, but they have an envious European pedigree and didn't buckle under constant pressure from Bayern.
Defending stoutly, with Vidic and right back Phil Jones particularly impressive, United had 174 passes in the game compared to Bayern's 701 but actually created the better of the chances. Danny Welbeck will rue the moment he was sent clean through in the 40th, capitalizing on Jerome Boateng's defensive mistake, but fluffed a chip into the goalkeeper's arms rather than going for a truer strike.
Bayern played the prettier football, as expected, but United goalkeeper David de Gea barely had a shot to save before or after Schweinsteiger's sweetly struck effort from Mario Mandzukic's nod-down.
"Tonight's performance was more than you'd hope for," Moyes said. "Hopefully tonight shows we will go there and go toe to toe with them.
"Our best football has been in this competition and we will need to show our best football next week."
The night's other quarterfinal first leg also finished 1-1, with Barcelona coming from a goal down to draw at home to Atletico Madrid.
With Bayern having become Europe's new powerhouse over the past two years and United without its main striker in Robin van Persie, many predicted the home-and-away series would be a blow-out. In the end, Bayern was somewhat fortunate to be leaving Manchester with its record of scoring in every match this season intact.
United's ambition was limited — it had to be, given it hardly saw the ball — but the team's desire and work rate couldn't be faulted. Moyes fielded a patched-up defence with Patrice Evra suspended and Rafael da Silva a late withdrawal but he got his tactics largely spot on, although United has probably never been dominated in possession at Old Trafford as much as it was in the first half.
It was Bayern's attack vs. United's defence, and United's defence will feel it won the battle.
"It is not easy when the opponent sets up so deep and closes down space," Munich winger Arjen Robben said. "After they took the lead, we should be happy to take a 1-1 home."
There were times when the home fans fell deathly silent, perhaps mesmerized, as Bayern's bubbly midfield splayed the ball around in long periods of possession. But Moyes' side kept its shape well, with Vidic delivering his best performance of an otherwise shaky season.
He popped up at the other end to score United's goal, too, the Serbian given the freedom of the penalty box to flick a header into the bottom corner from Rooney's left-wing corner.
The lead didn't last long, though, as Rafinha sped by Robben on the overlap and crossed deep for substitute Mario Mandzukic, who headed the ball down for Schweinsteiger to sweep a half-volley into the top corner.
The midfielder had already been booked for a foul on Michael Carrick when he brought down Rooney with seconds left of normal time. He protested, wagging his finger at Rooney and claiming the striker dived, but Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo had already brandished the yellow card.
"I think coming into the tie most people had Bayern had the favourites," Moyes said, "and rightly so — they are the European champions. But this club is used to big European nights and tonight they showed it."
Barcelona draws Atletico Madrid
An equalizer from Neymar saw Barcelona salvage a 1-1 draw at home to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday after a stunning opener by Diego Ribas in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
Atletico's chances were dealt a major blow half an hour in when striker Diego Costa came off injured, while Barcelona had lost defender Gerard Pique to injury before that.
But Diego Ribas, who replaced Costa, stunned the Camp Nou 56 minutes in with a powerful shot from about 25 metres (yards) that grazed the fingertips of goalkeeper Jose Manuel Pinto as it soared into the top corner.
With Lionel Messi kept quiet by Atletico's well-organized defence, Neymar stepped up to curl the equalizer around goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois in the 71st.
Courtois made a number of acrobatic stops after that to preserve the draw, including in the 85th when he tipped Messi's free kick around the post.
"They played a good game and they made it very hard for us to create chances," Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez said. "We have to try and score in the return, this was not a good result for us."
Atletico, which leads Barcelona by a single point in the Spanish league, leaves with a valuable away goal before the return on April 9.
In Tuesday's other quarter-final first leg, defending champion Bayern Munich drew 1-1 at Manchester United.
For the fourth time this season, neither team emerged victorious but Atletico returns to the Vicente Calderon buoyed by its performance after having lost its top player to a hamstring injury that could sideline him from the second leg. Pique has already been ruled out with a hairline fracture of his right hip.
"This is a team of men, who play with heart and pride, who never give up," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. "I'm happy because we can compete with them. I'm very happy because we are in this."
While Pique's exit hurt Barcelona's brittle defence, Diego Costa's injury left the visitors without their leading scorer and scrambling for options off the bench with Raul Garcia suspended. Diego Ribas was the lone option.
Striker David Villa had Atletico's best scoring chances in the first half as the former Barcelona forward curled wide a clear opportunity from inside the area five minutes in — before forcing Pinto into a diving stop just before halftime.
Between those efforts, Barcelona dominated possession, with Diego Godin's sliding block keeping Andres Iniesta's effort out before Diego Costa pulled up clutching his right thigh.
Atletico's physical play proved wearing for Barcelona, and pressured Pinto into errant goal kicks like the one that gave Villa his opening opportunity.
Courtois was alert to a Messi header to keep it scoreless at the break, but Atletico regrouped and emerged for the restart to stun the hosts with Diego Ribas's opener.
Neymar and Messi failed to link up on a cross in the 65th, as Atletico's back four continued to make life difficult for the Spanish champions, until Iniesta spotted Neymar's run and the Brazil striker curled his shot around Courtois.
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino brought Alexis Sanchez on for Cesc Fabregas and shifted Neymar to the left side. The extra attacking player clearly helped as Iniesta threaded a perfect ball into the area for the Brazil striker to equalize.
The goal lifted the Camp Nou crowd and turned the tables on Atletico. But Courtois settled his team's nerves by making a diving save to Iniesta's long-range shot in the 73rd minute, before then stopping a late effort from Messi.
"It's going to be such a hard game against a great opponent. It's going to be a very passionate game," Simeone said before calling on his players to seize the opportunity should Diego Costa not be available. "It's up to the team and the players to respond and make up for his [possible] absence."