On this day: Borussia Dortmund inflict defeat on Manchester United

Seventeen years ago today, Manchester United slip to a 1-0 defeat in the semi-finals of the Champions League at the hands of Borussia Dortmund.

Following hefty defeats to the likes of Barcelona and Gothenburg, it seemed that by the mid to late 1990s that Manchester United, under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson, were once again a European force.

Not since the days of George Best, Sir Bobby Charlton and Sir Matt Busby had the Red Devils reached the semi-finals of Europe's premier competition. However, a comprehensive 4-0 aggregate success over Porto in 1997 propelled United into the last four of the tournament, where they would face German outfit Borussia Dortmund.

The sides played out the first leg inside the Signal Iduna Park 17 years ago today, with hosting Dortmund regarded as the slight favourites to advance through to the Champions League final in Munich over the course of the two legs.

Manchester United's Ryan Giggs battles for possession against Borussia Dortmund on April 09, 1997.© Getty Images

Nevertheless, Ferguson selected an attacking lineup in Germany, with David Beckham and Ryan Giggs on either flank, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was preferred to Andy Cole to partner Eric Cantona up front.

Consequently, after what had been a cautious opening 45 minutes during which neither team was prepared to give the other an inch, United started to take the initiative courtesy of Cantona-orchestrated counter-attacks.

Nicky Butt saw his effort strike the post with Stefan Klos well beaten, before the Dortmund goalkeeper displayed good reflexes to thwart England international Beckham.

David Beckham, then of Manchester United, reacts to missing a chance against Borussia Dortmund on April 09, 1997.© Getty Images

Despite all the United pressure, it was Dortmund, who had ridden their luck for large parts of the second half, that broke the deadlock in the 76th minute. Butt lost possession in midfield and when the ball fell for Rene Tretschok, he unleashed a shot from 20 yards out. It appeared as though it was going to be a routine save for United's stand-in custodian Raimond van der Gouw, but the ball took a deflection off Gary Pallister, which saw it loop over the Dutchman and into the net.

Wary of conceding a second goal ahead of the return clash, the visitors ensured that they did not go gung-ho in search of an equaliser, meaning that the teams would reconvene at Old Trafford later that month with the Bundesliga outfit leading 1-0.

DORTMUND: Klos; Feiersinger, Kree, Heinrich, Reuter; Lambert, Sousa; Tretschok (Reinhardt), Ricken (Freund), Herrlich (Zorc); Moller

MAN UNITED: Van der Gouw; Neville, Johnsen, Pallister, Irwin; Beckham, Keane, Butt, Giggs (Scholes); Cantona, Solskjaer (Cole)

Ruud van Nistelrooy celebrates scoring for Manchester United against Blackburn Rovers on February 01, 2005.
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