By Steve Griffiths
MANCHESTER, England: Sir Alex Ferguson launched a scathing attack on Bayern Munich's cynical stars after Rafael da Silva was sent-off as Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League on Wednesday.
Ferguson felt Bayern's players contributed to Rafael's dismissal for two yellow cards, which proved the decisive moment in a dramatic quarter-final second leg at Old Trafford.
He also claimed Louis van Gaal's men targeted Wayne Rooney, who returned ahead of schedule from an ankle injury before coming off in the second half.
Brazilian right-back Rafael was booked in the first half for kicking out at Mark van Bommel after being fouled by the Bayern midfielder and then saw red for a foolish tug on Franck Ribery five minutes after the break.
Ferguson, whose side won the second leg 3-2 but lost the tie on away goals after a 4-4 aggregate draw, felt 38-year-old Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli had been influenced by Bayern.
"He's (Rafael) a young boy and showed inexperience, but they got him sent off. They all rushed towards the referee. Typical Germans. You can't dispute that," said Ferguson.
"There is no doubt about it. They were never getting through that tie, with 11 men we had no problem.
"The key issues were the goal before half-time and then the boy getting sent off, but it's still taken an exceptional goal to win the tie."
Ferguson's side had raced into a three-goal lead thanks to Darron Gibson's strike and two fine finishes from Nani.
But Ivica Olic reduced the deficit and, after Rafael was sent off, Arjen Robben got the crucial goal in the 74th minute.
Ferguson insisted he had no complaints about his side's performance.
"I think we've done well, performed well. It was a great performance. We were very unlucky," he said.
"We played better than they did in their own ground. Without the extra man they made the ball work and I thought we defended very well."
Ferguson also insisted United striker Wayne Rooney would be fit for the rest of the season. Rooney started brightly but struggled to have an influence after being caught on the ankle by Bayern defender Daniel van Buyten.
"We will have a look at it," Ferguson said. "I don't think it is serious.
It's just that tissue and the blood vessel has just burst. I am sure he'll be fine for the following week."
Bayern boss Louis van Gaal disputed Ferguson's version of Rafael's dismissal and said: "I thought England was a country of fair play and I don't think that is fair. I don't share Sir Alex's opinion.
"Part of being a player is control. Every player must know if you pick up one yellow card, a second one means a sending off.
"I certainly believe it was a yellow card offence and that is down to the player.
"We shall never know (if the red card changed the game). It is easy to say that after a loss. This game shall not be played again. I think he (Ferguson) is just disappointed."
Van Gaal insisted he always felt Bayern could go through after Olic got one back before the break.
He said: "In the first 20 minutes United were on top but after being 3-0 down we got a great goal from Ivica Olic and at half-time I was confident we could get back in the game and get a result. It is still incredible to come back from three goals down."