Madrid hold off Bayern to reach final again
Real Madrid have reached a third successive UEFA Champions League final thanks to Karim Benzema’s double in a thrilling semi-final second leg against Bayern München.
The tone was set for a remarkably open contest within the first three minutes, Thomas Müller’s right-wing cross only half-blocked by Sergio Ramos and breaking kindly off Corentin Tolisso for Joshua Kimmich – who also struck in the first leg – to slot in.
Eight minutes later Madrid regained the aggregate lead when Marcelo was allowed to advance from left-back and afforded the time to line up a perfect cross that found Benzema in space to head in at the far post.
Chances continued to come regularly, on-loan Madrid midfielder James Rodríguez firing over from close range after Robert Lewandowski had been denied by Keylor Navas. At the other end Sergio Ramos headed into the side-netting just before the break to Madrid frustration – but it was Bayern heads in hands seconds after the restart.
Tolisso’s back-pass seemed to catch out Sven Ulreich, who allowed the ball to slip under him, leaving Benzema with a tap-in. Cristiano Ronaldo could have wrapped it up from Marcelo’s cross as Madrid looked to finish it off; instead James Rodríguez drilled past Navas at the second attempt to revive Bayern hopes, but Madrid held on in a frenetic final half-hour.
Key player: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
All eyes were on the Frenchman tonight, who is having something of a lean season domestically, and he responded with two goals that fired his team into yet another UEFA Champions League final. Benzema might not always get the credit he deserves, but his work rate, tenacity and goal contributions are crucial to this Madrid team.
Reporter talking points
Joe Walker, Real Madrid: And breathe. What a 90 minutes of football. Madrid, who were largely second best, did what they do best: found a way to ensure themselves of a place in Kyiv as they look to make it a hat-trick of consecutive UEFA Champions League crowns. You wouldn’t bet against them doing it. There’s just something about them and this competition.
Jordan Maciel, Bayern: Bayern will feel aggrieved after coming so close, but at this stage of the competition, against opponents like Madrid, the smallest of details can prove decisive. The German champions looked the better side over the two legs, but made too many costly errors. Madrid are kings of Europe for a reason and did enough; another case of what could have been for Bayern.
Zinédine Zidane, Real Madrid coach: To come
Jupp Heynckes, Bayern coach: To come
- Madrid are the first team since Juventus (1996–98) to reach three successive #UCL finals
- Kyiv will be Madrid’s 16th European Cup final, more than any other club
- Madrid are first side to reach 20 UEFA knockout finals
- Zidane still not lost a #UCL tie as Madrid coach (W11)
- Benzema now has 55 #UCL goals, group stage to final
- James is the seventh player to score both for and against Madrid in the #UCL