Robben's strike and the most beautiful of defeats against Manchester United
Lost, but still won - or as Franz Beckenbauer described it: "One of the most beautiful defeats in the history of FC Bayern". Exactly ten years ago to the day, after a 3-2 loss in the quarter-final return leg of the Champions League at Manchester United, the German record champions progressed to the last four of Europe's elite club competition for the first time in nine years, after an away goals victory.
Rummenigge: "Will, energy and performance"
Despite being 3-0 down at half-time, the Munich team never gave up and displayed a fighting spirit that would later carry them to success. "We can just compliment the team. The will, energy and passion they're investing at the moment shows their mental strength," said CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, praising the amazing play of then-coach Louis van Gaal's team.
Robben's strike for the ages
To this day, this comeback is associated with one of the most beautiful goals in the history of FC Bayern's Champions League campaigns. In the 74th minute, Arjen Robben scored the goal that catapulted the German record champions into the next round. In poetic fashion, birthday boy Franck Ribéry, who turned 27 that Wednesday evening, gifted the Dutchman a pinpoint cross to the edge of the penalty area. The attacker took aim and volleyed an unstoppable shot that arrowed into the bottom left-hand corner of the goal.
It was "a shot you don't see every day," Rummenigge said, describing the goal from the Munich team's point of view, a goal which could hardly have been better executed, and was the final goal on the night. The Red Devils were unable to find an answer to the wonder strike and FCB secured their place in the semi-finals thanks to the away-goal rule.
The first leg in Munich saw FC Bayern win 2-1 in similarly dramatic fashion - here you can read about the match as it happened:
Bayern so nearly out
The fact that the Bavarians were able to afford to lose at Old Trafford at all was down to the slyness of Ivica Olić. In the first leg, the Croatian had snatched the ball from Patrice Evra shortly before the final whistle and scored to give FCB a 2-1 lead going into the second leg. But this slim lead was quickly cancelled out a week later: the game had only just started when the home side cruised to a 2-0 lead with goals from Darron Gibson (3') and Nani (7') - and after the Portuguese doubled his tally for the evening (41'), Bayern were staring down the barrel of exit from the competition.
Olić out of nothing - once again
But Bayern did not give up. Just two minutes after going three-nil down, Olić scored a very important goal, just like in the first leg. The Croatian reduced the deficit and initiated the comeback. "Ivica's goal to make it 3-1 was enormously important. It gave us faith," said Bastian Schweinsteiger. The Munich team were back in the game, even more so after United went a man down shortly after half-time.
In the 50th minute, Rafael saw a second yellow card after persistent foul play. "After the sending-off it was clear that it would be close for Manchester," Uli Hoeneß recalled. FCB increasingly took control of the match, and their efforts were rewarded with Robben's stunning strike shot a quarter of an hour before full time!
The journey went all the way to the final
In the semi-finals, the Munich team dominantly beat Olympique Lyonnais without conceding a goal (1-0 at home and 3-0 away) and reached the final of the Champions League for the first time since their triumph in 2001. There, coach van Gaal's team lost 2-0 to Inter Milan - but after this season in the UCL, it was clear that this young Bayern team would continue to compete for the trophy in the years to come.