Goals from Marcelo and Marco Asensio sealed a crucial away victory for Real Madrid, essentially putting one foot through to next month’s final in Kiev during an action-packed affair at the Allianz Arena.
Real Madrid were, for sustained periods here, performing poorly. This cannot be understated. Naturally, you’d expect some nerves ahead of a Champions League crunch tie – especially given the history between these two sides.
Zinedine Zidane’s side were being pressed high up the pitch from the early exchanges as Bayern looked to force mistakes, spurred on by their boisterous home supporters in Munich. After all, this was meant to be their night for redemption.
Robert Lewandowski caused early panic seconds in for the visitors’ backline after Dani Carvajal’s mistake in possession, but his attempted pass in the area for Thomas Muller was asking too much from the German.
Replays showed though, that the Polish forward was arguably unlucky not to have been awarded a spot-kick after being pushed down by a recovering Carvajal as he passed across goal.
These are match-changing decisions that never seem to favour Bayern in big games but alas, they would get their reward for a fast start.
Hosts open scoring from unlikely source
Joshua Kimmich, who has established himself as one of Bayern’s best players in recent seasons, broke the deadlock after 28 minutes. It was an unorthodox finish after a surging run down the flank: Keylor Navas expected a cross, Kimmich struck goalwards instead and the 31-year-old was beaten by a wicked effort at his near post.
Now at this point, you had to wonder where and just how Real would get themselves back into this match. They were second best in the first-half, were conceding too many opportunities on-goal and not creating many of note for themselves either.
Injuries rack up early despite Bayern’s dominance
Jupp Heynckes was forced into a double substitution through injury, as Arjen Robben limped off early on and was replaced by Thiago in the opening minutes. Then shortly after Kimmich’s finish, centre-back Jerome Boateng pulled his thigh muscle on a bursting run forward into midfield.
Now I could start to see the patterns forming, as two of Bayern’s most influential players succumbed to injuries and had to be replaced in the first-half.
Franck Ribery, who started brightly and created plenty on the wing for Bayern, squandered a golden opportunity to double their lead after 35 minutes. Through on-goal with only the goalkeeper to beat, a poor first touch allowed Navas to smother the ball and avoid danger in the process.
Mats Hummels missed a close-range volley from an awkward angle after losing Raphael Varane at a corner, before Muller saw his goal-bound effort blocked in quick succession.
A fierce and equally unexpected equaliser
Then for all their hard work, Bayern’s slender lead evaporated in a matter of seconds before the interval. Marcelo, who was lost out of his position for Kimmich’s goal, atoned for his error with aplomb as he fired a volley low and hard into the bottom corner on the edge of the box.
It was a hammer blow at the end of a promising half from Bayern’s perspective, as they were on top and deservedly in-front – but ultimately, the defending champions were never going to lay down and just lose without a battle.
James Rodriguez, playing here against his parent club, was like a man possessed with his excellent passing on display for all to marvel at. He should’ve had an assist, but for a smart diving stop by Navas, from Lewandowski’s close-range effort on 45 minutes.
Then with virtually the final kick of the first-half, Ribery skipped past Carvajal near the byline before teeing up Muller – who had to score – but was denied by an important Varane interception.
Half-time, 1-1. Now the question was, how were Bayern going to lose from here? They created chances galore, should have scored at least three or four but went into the break at a disadvantage and found themselves deflated after Marcelo’s timely equaliser.
Muller was thwarted once more by a crucial Sergio Ramos block after good work by Ribery again, who danced past Casemiro as though the Brazilian was not even there. Then, the game switched on its head.
Rafinha’s error proves costly
As though Real needed any help to score again, right-back Rafinha handed them the opportunity on a silver platter after a poor pass towards Kimmich in a risky area.
Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio broke quickly with a promising two-on-one situation and despite the youngster’s best efforts, could do nothing to stop the creative Spaniard from having an open chance to slot beyond Sven Ulreich in the box. He, unlike Bayern’s attackers, made no mistake with a curled finish.
Possession was needlessly squandered and having found themselves in a promising position after a half-hour, Bayern players must have been feeling a sense of deja-vu before the hour mark. 2-1 down to Real, once again, with Zidane’s half-time change (Asensio on for Isco) getting himself on the scoresheet.
There were still chances, more so for the hosts as they rallied desperately to get back into proceedings. Cristiano Ronaldo did his utmost to make headlines too, though a well-worked finish was correctly disallowed after he was adjudged to have handled the ball down when controlling it before striking goalwards.
Frustration, rightly too
Ribery, Real substitute Karim Benzema and Lewandowski all had chances to score but at full-time, Real will now take a favourable 2-1 lead with them back to Madrid ahead of next Tuesday’s second leg.
Kimmich’s reaction at the full-time whistle, kicking the ball up in anger and storming down the tunnel, typifies exactly how Bayern should be feeling as a collective unit: A massive opportunity, missed.