Manchester United showed great spirit in a 1-1 draw with holders Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday while Atletico Madrid gained the upper hand against Barcelona.
United led at Old Trafford through a Nemanja Vidic header, and while Bastian Schweinsteiger soon got a precious away goal for Bayern, the ailing Premier League champions will have been boosted by the nature of their performance against their much-fancied opponents.
Atletico, meanwhile, hold the advantage going into the second leg of their all-Spanish tie against Barcelona thanks to a brilliant away goal scored by Diego Ribas, although Neymar scored to earn the Catalans a 1-1 draw.
With Bayern already having won the German Bundesliga title and United struggling at home under David Moyes, many expected the visitors to coast to a comfortable victory, but the hosts defended doggedly and succeeded in frustrating their opponents for large spells.
United had an early Danny Welbeck goal disallowed and the England striker then missed a glorious chance to open the scoring when he tried to chip Bayern ‘keeper Manuel Neuer when clean through on goal.
The hosts opened the scoring in the 58th minute, Vidic twisting his neck to divert a Wayne Rooney corner from the left into the net at the far post.
Bayern were level just nine minutes later, however, as substitute Mario Mandzukic knocked down a Rafinha cross and Schweinsteiger swept the ball into the roof of the net.
Bayern were unable to make it a record eight straight away wins in the Champions League and Schweinsteiger was later sent off after a late challenge on Rooney saw him booked for a second time.
Javi Martinez will also be banned for the return leg at the Allianz Arena next Wednesday.
“I am quite satisfied. Manchester United has one of the best teams in the world,” said Bayern coach Pep Guardiola.
“It is always dangerous when you go into the second leg with a 1-1 draw, but even a 2-1 victory would have been dangerous. We will try to win the second leg and I am sure we can do it.”
For Moyes, there was satisfaction with the performance coupled with the realisation that his side must get a positive result at the Allianz Arena.
“The players played really well, so we’re delighted, but just a bit disappointed that we conceded in the end,” he said.
Atletico have the edge as well against Barcelona after drawing with the Catalans for the fourth time in all competitions this season but grabbing a precious away goal.
However, while they will be pleased to come away from the Camp Nou with a 1-1 draw, they lost leading scorer Diego Costa to a hamstring injury that looks likely to rule him out of next week’s match at the Vicente Calderon.
“Their goal was a shame for us, it was a great goal. I think we played very well and perhaps had more chances, but they played well too,” Barca skipper Xavi Hernandez told Spanish television.