Under par so far this season, Manchester United showed they were no April fools in the Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich to instil real belief of an upset.
United, tipped by many to be stuffed by European champions Bayern, put on a determined defensive performance to take a 1-1 scoreline to the Allianz Arena next week.
Although Bayern scored a crucial away goal, meaning United need to score to have any chance of making it past the favourites, Moyes was delighted with how his players responded to taking on the five-times European champions, who were fresh from clinching the German Bundesliga in record time eight days ago.
“It’s a competition we’ve got really good history in, and I think the players went out and realised that we were playing a really good side tonight,” said the Scot, who lamented the fact United could not produce such league displays against rivals Liverpool and Manchester City last month when they were twice embarrassed 3-0 at Old Trafford.
“It’s hard to put your finger on it. But there was a real determination tonight to make sure that we did well.
“We’ve given ourselves a great opportunity to go to Munich and get a victory.”
After the Champions League final against Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona in 2009, Alex Ferguson said United had been put on ‘the carousel’ and for much of the first half the now Bayern boss looked to have repeated the trick.
United were unable to retain possession as wave upon wave of Bayern attack poured onto the defence.
They managed to withstand the first half pressure as the centre back pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic rolled back the years to keep Bayern at bay.
The second half saw United gain much more of a foothold in the game and against the odds took the lead as Vidic headed in a Wayne Rooney corner just before the hour mark.
Serbian Vidic said it was typical of three-times European champions United to pull out a performance like they did on the biggest stage.
“In the Champions League, we have played quite well. It was only the Olympiakos first leg that was disappointing but in all of the other games, we defended well and played as a team. Our biggest threat is on the counter attack and that is how we played.
“I think the second leg will be the same game. They are going to have a lot of possession because it is their ground and we have to keep our shape, stick together.
“With the players that we have up front, with so much pace, I think we can hurt them.”
United’s lead lasted just eight minutes as Bastian Schweinsteiger lost Marouane Fellaini and pulled Bayern level.
However the influential German then picked up a second yellow for a foul on Rooney and will miss the second leg next week, as will defender Javi Martinez.
The draw against the all-conquering Bayern side will be seen as success at Old Trafford and represented United’s best performance against a top side this season.
Main image courtesy of Carl Recine/Action Images, with thanks.