By Ian Ladyman
Feeling the pain: Wayne Rooney in agony after injuring his ankle
This was the moment a nation held its breath as Wayne Rooney clutched his ankle in agony at the end of Manchester United's 2-1 Champions League defeat against Bayern Munich.
The striker on whom England's World Cup hopes rest was injured in the dying seconds last night after Mario Gomez trod on his right foot. He will be assessed today but looks likely to miss Saturday's pivotal title clash with Chelsea.
The sight of him limping off sparked fears for South Africa, particularly as he suffered a metatarsal injury in the same foot four years ago almost to the day.
United led through a 64-second Rooney goal but an equaliser from Franck Ribery - deflected in off Rooney - and a stoppage-time winner from Ivica Olic gave the German side victory.
Moment of impact: Mario Gomez treads on the foot of Wayne Rooney
Rooney, who was also booked, was injured in the build-up to the winning goal.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: 'Wayne has got a kick on the ankle. We don't know how serious it is.'
United sought to allay fears that Rooney had broken his foot again, though he left the Allianz Arena on crutches and with his right leg in a brace.
Worrying sight: Injured Wayne Rooney is helped off the pitch
Ferguson was in no mood to absolve his team for a defeat that leaves the quarter-final tie delicately balanced going into Wednesday's second leg at Old Trafford.
He said: 'We never played well and gave the ball away all night. That's not like us. The winning goal was a terrible one
Walking wounded: Wayne Rooney leaves the Allianz Arena on crutches
'At least we have an away goal. Bayern have a strong chance but at home we should be confident. Our keeper made saves time and time again and kept us in it.'
Bayern coach Louis van Gaal believes Rooney's absence could be crucial.
The Dutchman said: 'He is their most important player and if you looked at United's statistics you would see their second highest scorer had been their opponents. They had 11 own goals. That's how important Rooney is.'
Quick fire: Wayne Rooney opens the scoring after just 64 seconds