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Benzema brace sends Champions League holders into third straight final after Bernabeu thriller

Sports | 2018-05-01 23:45:27
Benzema brace sends Champions League holders into third straight final after Bernabeu thriller
Real Madrid booked their place in their third straight Champions League final after eliminating Bayern Munich 4-3 on aggregate in their Champions League last-four tie on Tuesday night.

The Spanish side conceded two goals in the second-leg clash at the Santiago Bernabeu - a third-minute Joshua Kimmich goal and another from their on-loan midfielder James Rodriguez - but a brace from Karim Benzema was enough for Zinedine Zidane's men to draw 2-2 on the night and go through to the final.

Real, who have won the last two Champions League finals, will now play either Liverpool or Roma - who face off at the Stadio Olimpico in the second semi-final match on Wednesday night.

Bayern came to the Santiago Bernabeu knowing they had to do better in front of goal than in the first leg where, despite scoring first, they missed a host of chances as Real came from behind to secure a 2-1 victory at the Allianz Arena.

And it was clear to see in the early stages of the game that Bayern were certainly ready for the challenge in Madrid - with Kimmich opening the scoring, just as he did last week, in just the third minute.

After Marcelo failed to stop a cross into the box, it was left to Sergio Ramos to kick the ball away from the area but after the Los Blancos captain made a mess of his attempted clearance, an unmarked Kimmich drive in a low shot that handed Bayern an away goal.

The Germans were by far the better of the two teams by that point, but a lapse in concentration saw Bayern concede just eight minutes later when a superb cross by Marcelo on the left flank was headed in by Benzema.

Despite the goal, Bayern kept pushing men forwards and saw a penalty appeal following a challenge by Ramos on Lewandowski turned down not long afterwards.

The Germans should have scored another before the break but Thomas Muller drove a good shot straight at Keylor Navas while on-loan Real midfielder James blazed over from within the area.

There was a late call for another spot-kick, this time for a Marcelo handball in the area, but again referee Cuneyt Cakir was unmoved and the first period ended 1-1.

Bayern needed to start the second half fully concentrated and with intensity to score another away goal but, instead, they suffered a horror show as Corentin Tolisso inexplicably sent a backpass to Sven Ulreich, who failed to claim it and allowed Benzema to latch onto the ball and slot in from close range.

With Real leading the tie 4-2 by this point, Bayern needed an opportunity to haul themselves back into the clash - which came in the 52nd minute after Ramos brought down Lewandowski in the area.

Unfortunately for the Germans no spot-kick was given much to the visitors' surprise and annoyance, but Bayern's constant surges forward paid off when Navas could only punch back out James' powerful shot - only for the Colombian to drive in the rebound from a tight angle.

The goal meant Bayern needed just one more goal to book their place in their first Champions League final since 2013 - when they won the tournament - but they couldn't find it as Real held on to keep their hopes of winning their 13th European Cup alive.

Evening Standard
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