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Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Real Madrid see off Bayern to reach third straight Champions League final

Reuters , Tuesday 1 May 2018
Benzema
Real Madrid's Karim Benzema celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the Champions League semifinal second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and FC Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, May 1, 2018. (AP)
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Holders Real Madrid reached the Champions League final for a third year in a row after taking advantage of Bayern Munich’s carelessness in attack and defence to draw 2-2 in their semi-final second leg on Tuesday, winning 4-3 on aggregate.

Bayern defender Joshua Kimmich put them in front in the third minute at the Santiago Bernabeu but Karim Benzema levelled with a free header in the 11th. A goalkeeping howler from Bayern’s Sven Ulreich then allowed Benzema to tap in Madrid’s second at the start of the second half.

James Rodriguez, on loan from Madrid, hit a deserved equaliser for Bayern in the 63rd to set up a gripping finale but the Spaniards clung on despite waves of pressure from the visitors to become the first team since Juventus in 1998 to reach the final for three years in succession.

They will meet either Liverpool or AS Roma in the final in Kiev on May 26, where they will bid to become the first side since Bayern in 1976 to win the competition three years in a row.

Madrid had ridden their luck to win the first leg in Munich 2-1 after Bayern had missed a slew of chances and Zinedine Zidane's side made the most of their few opportunities.

Madrid fans unfurled a giant banner before kickoff stating "We will defend the throne, we will capture glory", but Bayern launched an early assault on their kingdom as David Alaba came rushing forward only to pass into the hands of keeper Keylor Navas.

Bayern came back down the other flank and landed their first punch when Sergio Ramos failed to clear a cross and Kimmich gleefully knocked home from close range.

It was the third consecutive home game in the knockout stages that Madrid had fallen behind, but they kept their composure and soon found an equaliser.

A superb crossfield ball from Luka Modric was controlled by Marcelo who delivered the perfect cross for Benzema to nod calmly in at the back post.

An end-to-end game ensued, with midfield frequently being bypassed by long balls up to the forwards. Bayern could have re-taken the lead when striker Robert Lewandowski was foiled by Madrid goalkeeper Navas and Rodriguez sent the rebound flying over the bar from close range.

Bayern finished the half strongly but were left fuming at a failed penalty appeal when a shot from Kimmich struck Marcelo’s arm.

They sealed their own demise, though, when Ulreich lost his footing as he tried to control a backpass from Corentin Tolisso, allowing Madrid's much-maligned striker Benzema to tap in what proved to be the killer blow.

Bayern still created chances before and after Rodriguez's goal.

Navas denied the Colombian and Mats Hummels headed wide from a corner in stoppage time, sealing Bayern’s fifth consecutive Champions League exit to a Spanish side, and their third to Madrid in that time.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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