Arjen Robben ripped up Wayne Rooney's script on Wednesday when the Dutchman's sublime late volley swept Bayern Munich into the Champions League semifinals and Manchester United to European oblivion.
Rooney, returning eight days after damaging ankle ligaments in his side's 2-1 defeat in the first quarterfinal leg, flummoxed Bayern by his mere presence as United romped to a 3-0 lead but ultimately his amazing recovery counted for nothing.
The England striker was largely a peripheral figure as United scored three goals in the opening 41 minutes against a Bayern side that had completely fluffed their lines amid the din of a heaving Old Trafford.
He had a hand in Darron Gibson's opener after three minutes but after that it was Antonio Valencia and Nani who tore Bayern to shreds, the latter scoring twice to send United seemingly towards a fourth consecutive semifinal.
But United conceded twice to crash out on the away goals rule — the second, former Chelsea winger Robben's killer blow, coming after Rooney had trudged off after 55 minutes with more damage to his ankle and Brazilian fullback Rafael had been sent off.
“I was confident we could score the goal in the second half,” Bayern's Dutch coach Louis van Gaal said. “It was incredible to come back from three goals down. The goal from Robben was unbelievable.”
Van Gaal refused to enter a slanging match with United boss Alex Ferguson who accused Bayern of getting Rafael sent off after 50 minutes when he tugged the shirt of Franck Ribery and also dismissed Ferguson's gripe that Rooney had been roughed up.
Lyon into champs league semis
Olympique Lyon made the Champions League breakthrough as a 1-0 defeat at Bordeaux handed them a 3-2 win on aggregate.
German press hails ‘incredible’ Robben
Berlin: The German press hailed Bayern Munich and their Dutch star Arjen Robben after the Bundesliga giants reached the Champions League semis.
Bayern got their first semi-final spot in Europe's top competition since 2001. And the sports pages were already looking forward to the team picking the trophy for the fifth time.
“And now give us the trophy,” headlined daily Bild on their sports page, who estimated that “beating Lyon in the semifinal is an achieveable mission.”
Bild continued: “What a fantastic evening in Manchester! Nevertheless after 41 minutes of play Germany's most titled club were trailing 3-0 and risked humiliation. But Bayern came back with a desire to win which gives hope of a final victory.”
Die Welt evoked “Bayern Munich's most beautiful defeat.”
The daily highlighted “Sir Alex's (Ferguson) grandiose bluff” when he included Wayne Rooney who had suffered a leg injury in the first leg in Germany and “Arjen Robben's incredible volley” which put Bayern through.
Bi-weekly Kicker hailed the Dutch winger, who also made his return from injury, under the headline: “Incredible Robben.”