Bayern Munich knock La Liga Leaders Real Madrid out in tense penalty shoot-out
After Chelsea’s heroics against Barcelona, it was hard to believe that tonight’s encounter would live up to last night’s game.
However, an early goal meant this match went some way to mounting its own challenge on that front.
Within the first five minutes Real Madrid put themselves ahead, and level on aggregate. David Alaba was harshly penalised for a handball inside his penalty area, and Cristiano Ronaldo dispatched from the spot with aplomb.
An away goal from the first leg meant this would be enough to send the home side through, and ensured Bayern had to open up to notch a goal of their own.
They hit back with almost immediate effect, Alaba making atonement for his handball with a storming run at the Madrid by line, his cross finding Arjen Robben who should have done better from close range, but instead sliced his shot over the bar.
Bayern continued to attack, and carved out a few promising openings but it was Madrid that got the second goal.
Sloppy defending by Bayern saw them lose possession, with Mesut Ozil reacting quickly to find Ronaldo unmarked on the edge of the area. His cool finish doubled the Spanish giants’ lead, and moved them to within touching distance of the Champions League final in Munich.
However the job was not done yet, and in the 26th minute, Pepe was adjudged to have bundled over Mario Gomez, who was looking to latch onto a cross hit across the goal mouth.
A penalty was awarded, which Robben duly converted; a well placed shot squeezing past Iker Casillas’s finger tips, who could only push the ball in off the post.
The last action of the half saw Robben’s free kick rebound off Pepe’s hand, no penalty was given and Casillas reacted well to prevent the ball deflecting into his goal.
As it stood, each side had an away goal each, and with the aggregate score three apiece, it would take extra time to separate these European juggernauts.
Both sides played the second half in a positive manner; attacking in numbers, and getting forward whenever possible.
A glancing header from Gomez had beaten Casillas, but also flew just wide of the post.
Benzema had a chance at the other end, his tight turn, and sharp shot was saved low to Manuel Neuer’s right.
Gomez then squandered a wonderful opportunity in front of goal, dwindling on the ball as he received it on the penalty spot, only to be crowded out.
The 90 minutes was up, and neither side could be separated.
Extra time was played in a different, more tentative fashion. Where both teams had been eager to win, they now seemed anxious about losing, as a result the first half of extra time finished goalless.
Jose Mourinho swapped Karim Benzema for Gonzalo Higuain; a change that reflected a stalemate in front of goal as much as it did tired legs.
The second half saw a late Madrid surge, but Bayern’s defence held strong and they were able to hold out for penalties.
At this stage the visitors came into their own. Two superb saves by Neuer denied Ronaldo and Kaka, whilst Sergio Ramos’s penalty flew over the bar and cancelled out Toni Kroos and Phillip Lahm’s misses.
This meant that the responsibility fell to Bastian Schweinsteiger to win the tie; he finished with all the assurance of a German penalty taker to send his side through, and make Bayern Munich the first team to play a Champions League final in their own stadium.