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David Moyes restores Manchester United pride doing it Everton way

By Steven Beacom

Manchester United have taken stick all season. Rightly so. Some of the performances at Old Trafford have shamed the red shirt and the manager has been found wanting.

Last night was different.

Instead of wilting under pressure when facing a decent side on their own patch, David Moyes and his players stood tall in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final against the best team in Europe.

With a confident Bayern Munich coming to town, having already won their domestic championship in record time and with Pep Guardiola apparently taking the German outfit to new levels of performance, United were supposed to get battered.

The fear amongst their supporters was that they would lose even more heavily than when outclassed 3-0 by hated rivals Liverpool and Manchester City in the Premier League.

After all, those two might be good, but Bayern are better.

By the end of the contest, with United having drawn 1-1, that fear had been replaced with pride. Some of the faith lost was restored and there was hope, not just that they might go further in the competition, but also in manager Moyes.

He didn't win the game, but since taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson this was his finest hour and an half.

So, how did the Scot get this one right?

Well, if all else fails, go back to what you know. That's exactly what Moyes did.

Last night we didn't see the type of swashbuckling United side we came to know and admire under Fergie. Nor did we witness a team offering a pale imitation of the above.

Taking on mighty Munich, Moyes reverted to his Everton way.

United soaked up endless pressure as the better side dominated possession, they defended with resilience and discipline and looked to score goals on the break or from set pieces.

Containment, commitment and then conviction when corners came their way. It worked at Goodison Park for years and it did the job for United at Old Trafford last night.

When Nemanja Vidic, Inter Milan bound at the end of the season, provided a priceless leaving present, heading the opening goal on 58 minutes, the plan was being perfectly executed.

Things went awry when on 66 minutes Bastian Schweinsteger, later correctly sent off, produced a super finish to climax a sweeping move, but that was the worst it got for the home side, lifted by a fantastic atmosphere.

A 1-1 draw... every United supporter in the world would surely have taken that.

Yes, Bayern had the ball for most of the game, but did not create enough clear cut openings. In a remarkable first half the visitors enjoyed a staggering 78 per cent of possession and played 468 passes compared with United's 125, yet they never inflicted serious damage and were fortunate to go in scoreless at the break.

Danny Welbeck had the ball in the German net early on but was penalised for a high foot and then the same player missed a golden opportunity just before the break, fluffing a chip easily saved by Manuel Neuer.

Oh Danny boy, it was a shocker. Otherwise though he had a good night, like his battling team-mates and like the underfire Moyes.

Bayern are still favourites to qualify for the last four. United, however, are still alive in the tie. Few expected that.


From Belfast Telegraph