Bayern's Neuer laments 'brutal, bitter' Champions League howler

AFP , Thursday 9 May 2024

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said his late Champions League semi-final howler against Real Madrid was "extremely bitter" as his side were knocked out of the tournament.

Neuer
Bayern's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer dives to make a save during the Champions League semifinal second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, May 8, 2024. Photo: AP

 

With just two minutes remaining, Bayern were leading 1-0 thanks to a 68th-minute strike from Alphonso Davies, the Canadian's first Champions League goal, and seemingly on course to meet rivals Borussia Dortmund in the final at Wembley.

However, Vinicius Junior then sent in a simple-looking shot from outside the box and Neuer, who had impressed with a series of acrobatic saves all evening, spilled the ball into the path of Joselu, who levelled the scores.

Joselu scored again four minutes later as Real took the lead in the tie to win 2-1 and 4-3 on aggregate, booking their ticket to face Dortmund in the final next month.

"It's extremely bitter for me," the 38-year-old Neuer said to DAZN.

"I expected the ball to land a bit differently to my chest but it went a bit higher and it was difficult to get a hold of it. And then Joselu was there quicker and it was difficult to defend.

"For a goalkeeper who's been around for a while it's something I've already experienced, but the goal was brutal."

Bayern manager Thomas Tuchel said his captain's mistake was uncharacteristic.

"'Manu' did incredibly well but then made a mistake he wouldn't have made for 100 years," said Tuchel

"It's frustrating. If there's anyone who didn't deserve that, it's Manu. We know who he is, what he's achieved."

Defender Matthijs de Ligt, who had a late goal controversially chalked off for an offside in the lead-up, said Neuer was "unlucky."

Neuer had "world class saves after world class saves" De Ligt said, explaining "but that can happen, it's football. It's unlucky at the end."

Neuer, who returned this season after almost a year out with a broken leg, had begun to hit top form.

The 2014 World Cup winner is odds on favourite to be between the sticks for Germany at the Euros in summer, which kick off on June 14 in Munich against Scotland.

Wednesday's loss means Neuer and Bayern will finish the season without a trophy for the first time since 2012.

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