Real Madrid 2-2 Bayern Munich: GKs the difference as Los Blancos reach CL final
A wild game. On one end, spectacular play between the sticks to preserve a lead. On the other end, one of the worst goalkeeping mistakes you will ever see.
Bayern Munich was the better side, but Sven Ulrich inexplicably coughed up what proved to be the decisive goal just 28 seconds after halftime as a Karim Benzema brace secured a draw at the Santiago Bernabeu and sent Real Madrid to the Champions League final.
Neutrals would have been hoping for an early Bayern goal to make things interesting, and they got just that. The visitors scored a messy goal just three minutes into the game as Thomas Muller’s cross from the right cannoned off a pair of defenders and fell right to Josh Kimmich on the doorstep who poked it home.
However, the goal seemed to wake Real Madrid up, and the hosts began to build themselves and produced a response in the 11th minute. Marcelo delivered a delicious cross to the far post where Karim Benzema had lost David Alaba, and the Frenchman scored just his third Champions League goal of the campaign to bring Real Madrid back level. The goal featured 28 passes in the build-up, second to only a Barcelona group stage score for most in the Champions League this season according to Opta.
Both teams had plenty of attacking intent, but it was Bayern that had more chances up through the half-hour mark. Robert Lewandowski shanked one half-chance just wide on 20 minutes, and Franck Ribery was dangerous down the left, tearing up Lucas Vazquez who was filling in at right-back for the injured Dani Carvajal. The best chance came just past the half-hour mark as Alaba found Robert Lewandowski at a tight angle from the left. Lewandowski’s shot was saved by Keylor Navas, and the ball popped high into the air across the face of goal, and came down on the head of Muller, but that effort was blocked. The ball again fell to a Bayern player as James Rodriguez came streaking in at point blank range, but he agonizingly blazed the shot over the bar, a strikingly bad miss.
With the German side feeling confident after the break, their hearts were broken just 28 seconds into the second half. A back-pass from Corentin Tolisso came to Bayern goalkeeper Sven Ulrich, and as he went down to pick the ball up under pressure from Benzema, he realized too late that he could not use his hands on a back-pass. The momentary brain fart saw Ulrich crumple into a heap as he tried to recover, allowing Benzema to tap the ball into the open net and leaving Ulrich to contemplate one of the worst goalkeeping mistakes in Champions League history.
Following the mistake, Bayern pushed forward knowing they needed two goals to advance. Keylor Navas made a spectacular save on David Alaba from a tight angle just moments after Madrid’s goal. Then down the other end Cristiano Ronaldo missed the target badly with his first chance of the game on a platter from Marcelo.
James Rodriguez grabbed a goal back for Bayern in the 63rd minute to even the score on the day. Niklas Sule sent in a cross from a deep right position, and it came to Rodriguez in acres of space at the penalty spot. His first shot was saved from front and center, but the rebound came back to him at a tighter angle, and he buried the chance, choosing not to celebrate against his parent club.
Keylor Navas again came up huge as Bayern continued to push. In the 73rd minute, Rodriguez hammered a volley from straightaway center but the Madrid shotstopper was there to acrobatically push it away. He again stopped an effort from Muller seven minutes later. Gareth Bale, on as a 72nd minute substitute, had an opportunity to seal the deal in the 86th minute, but he was beaten by Ulrich while one-on-one with the Bayern keeper. Navas was required one more time to stop Bayern from getting a shot off in stoppage time that would have been a sure equalizer, but the Costa Rican came off his line to scoop up the cross.
Eventually, the final whistle blew, and fans of the German side will know they let a fantastic performance on the big stage go to waste. On the other end, Real Madrid reaches its third consecutive Champions League final, all under manager Zinedine Zidane.