LONDON: The first two quarter-finals of the Champions League remained gloriously open after 1-1 draws between Manchester United and Bayern Munich in England and between Barcelona and domestic challengers Atletico de Madrid in Spain.
Bayern and Barcelona, in terms of sheer quality, continue as favourites to proceed to the last four but the committed resistance of both United and Atletico suggested that the returns will be anything but straightforward.
United held off the reigning European champions with a battling defensive display before taking the lead through Nemanja Vidic’s excellent 58th minute header.
Bayern had failed to make their overwhelming possession count but Bastian Schweinsteiger’s fine finish for the equaliser was almost his last contribution to the entire tie.
Minutes later he was sent off after being shown a second yellow card for tripping Wayne Rooney.
In Spain Brazilian substitute Diego fired an unstoppable shot into the top corner from 30m to open the scoring for La Liga leaders Atletico in the 56th minute. Andres Iniesta then pierced a gap in the Aletico defence 15 minutes later for Neymar to beat goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Atletico coach Diego Simeone said: “We got a good result but the tie is still open. It was all down to enormous work from the team.
“It was a game of different styles and each team fights with the armoury they have. Barca played their usual way with a lot of possession, moving the ball around, one against ones. I like to play against Barca because you learn and you improve.”
But Atletico may be without Diego Costa after an early hamstring injury.