Bayern Munich progressed to the Final of the Champions by virtue of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer’s heroics ,who kept out two of Real Madrid’s shots in the penalty shoot out, after both teams were locked 3-3 on aggregate, after 120 minutes of regulation time,at the Santiago Bernabeu.
In front of a vocal Bernabeu crowd,the clash of the European giants delivered as much as it promised, with both teams having equal chances and possession.But it was Real Madrid who got off the blocks quicker and seized the early initiative.The German side were finding it difficult to deal with Real’s long balls across the pitch, and Xabi Alonso and Marcelo linked well with Angel Di Maria,who got the breakthrough when he tried to slot the ball into the box from a Marcelo long range pass.The ball hit the hand of defender David Alaba,who was also booked,and Real were awarded a spotkick in the 6th minute.Cristiano Ronaldo,who had previously scored from 24 penalty kicks,converted for his 25th to level the tie at 2-2.At this stage ,it looked like Real would progress,especially with an Away goal advantage.
Ronaldo added a second 8 minutes later,when he tapped in from close range,from a Mesut Ozil pass,for his 10th Champions League goal in as many games.That seemed to have buried the German side,but Munich kept the pressure, with Arjen Robben shifting flanks to create confusion in the Madrid defence.And the pressure paid, when in the 27th minute, striker Mario Gomez was pushed by Pepe in the box and Robben converted the penalty,to cancel out Madrid’s away goal cushion and level the tie at 3-3.
From then on,the balance tilted in Munich’s favour,and although Real came close on many occasions, the scoreline never seemed to change for the night.After a goal less 30 minutes of extra time, the match headed for a penalty shootout,with the fate of both teams resting on the shoulders of possibly the world’s two best keepers ,Mauel Neuer and Iker Casillas.
It was all nerves when David Alaba stepped up for the first kick,and he cooly sent Casillas the wrong way.Ronaldo then missed for Los Blancos,with Neuer making a fine stop,diving to his right.Mario Gomez made it 2-0 for the Germans,for a 2 goal advantage. Substitute Kaka made another mess of the spotkick, with a carbon copy of Ronaldo’s miss ,which Neuer blocked with ease.Munich had almost made it.Kross could have won it for his team.But Casillas read the shot well and made a superb save to keep Real in the game.Xabi Alonso brought some hope into the Madrid camp when he sent Neuer the wrong way to make it 2-1.And everything seemed balanced again when Casillas made another fine save to thwart Munich skipper Philip Lahm.Defender Sergio Ramos,who capped a fine performance in the game, then skied his shot,which sailed over the bar,to spark early celebrations amongst the Munich players. Bastian Schweinsteiger never really looked in anydoubt as he calmly shot past Casillas and catapulted Munich into their dream Final at home,for a date with Chelsea on May 19th.It was an unbelievable scene at The Bernabeu,and Real Madrid,after a dream start had to settle for second best,but had played their part in one of European football’s most exciting nights.