Bayern Munich defeated Manchester United in the first game of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League. This rematch of the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final featured the two biggest clubs in Group A of the competition. With the victory, Bayern extended its winning streak in the Champions League group stage to 15 games. Manchester United lost its third straight game in all competitions.

Manchester United had a glorious chance to open the scoring after just three minutes. Christian Eriksen picked the ball up just outside the Bayern Munich area. The Danish international rolled the ball to Facundo Pellistri on the back side. Bayern left-back Alphonso Davies desperately lunged through Pellistri to prevent the Uruguayan from scoring. The clearance fell to Eriksen, who saw his attempt saved by Sven Ulreich.

After an early spell of possession, Bayern Munich found its footing. Many of the club’s moves came down the right-hand side with Leroy Sané. The opening goal was not a world-class finish, though. Instead, it was a howler from Andre Onana. Sané fired a tame shot at the Cameroonian goalkeeper. A dramatic attempt to dive and stop the ball allowed the shot to squirm under Onana.

Bayern Munich added to its lead no more than five minutes later. This time, the attack came down the left side of the Bayern attack. A sensational run from Jamal Musiala beat several United defenders. He then stopped up just outside the six-yard box and squared the ball to Serge Gnabry. Gnabry guided the ball into the far corner of the net as he shot across his body. In an instant, the wheels were falling off for United.

Bayern controls the second half against Manchester United

Erik ten Hag’s message in the dressing room brought an instant response from the visitors. Rasmus Hojlund pulled one back for the Red Devils to score his first Manchester United goal. Marcus Rashford’s layoff to the Norwegian led to a deflected shot that beat Ulreich. Manchester United had a lifeline and a renewed reason to push forward.

Yet, United was dealt a blow by a harsh penalty handball call just three minutes after the United goal. Dayot Upamecano headed a ball toward Eriksen, and the ball hit the hand of Eriksen. Even if the midfielder had no intention to even have his hand away from his body, the VAR official awarded a penalty. Harry Kane, whom Manchester United courted for years, scored the penalty.

Flurry of goals to close the game

Bayern Munich had several strong chances for a fourth. The German outfit’s players queued up to fire at Andre Onana. Casemiro was the next player to score though. Strong play from Anthony Martial sparked an attack from Manchester United. Eventually, the Brazilian slid the ball in while he was lying down. With two minutes left in the 90, Manchester United had a slim lifeline.

Mathys Tel slammed the door shut on United in a Bayern counterattack in stoppage time. The 19-year-old controlled a ball over the top from Joshua Kimmich. He then pumped the ball into the roof of the net to beat Onana. Casemiro’s header to make the score 4-3 was merely consolation that could help a goal differential battle down the road. In total, there were five goals in the second half, including three after the 87th minute.

Manchester United is in a spiral right now. In the last five games in all competitions, United has conceded a total of 14 goals. On the bright side, the schedule does lighten up both domestically and internationally. United travels to Burnley in the Premier League this weekend. Then, in early October, it looks to pick up points in the UEFA Champions League against Galatasaray. Bayern Munich tries to continue its unbeaten spell this season against winless Bochum on Saturday.

PHOTO: IMAGO & Jan Huebner