Bayern see off Benfica to reach semis
Bayern Munich came out on top in an entertaining Champions League last-eight clash with Benfica, reaching the semi-finals with a 3-2 aggregate victory, after a second-leg 2-2 draw in Lisbon on Wednesday.
Pep Guardiola took his German champions to the Estadio Da Luz with a 1-0 first-leg lead thanks to Aruto Vidal’s early strike at the Allianz Arena last week.
After a slow start to the game, Benfica drew back onto level terms in the tie in the 27th minute, as Raul Jimenez escaped the Bayern defence to nod past Manuel Neuer.
But Vidal smashed home his second goal of the quarter-final tie seven minutes before half-time to leave Rui Vitoria’s Benfica needing two unanswered goals to progress.
The tie appeared all but over shortly after the restart when Thomas Mueller pounced in trademark fashion.
Benfica did manage to create a grandstand finale of sorts through Talisca’s set-piece, but it could have been more exciting had Bayern’s Javi Martinez been sent off for the cynical foul that lead to the free-kick.
Five-time winners Bayern progress to the last four for the sixth time in the last seven seasons, leaving their opponents without a semi-final appearance in Europe’s premier club competition since 1990.
Benfica were undisputed underdogs, and they started this match not just with a deficit to overturn, but without three key forwards.
Top scorer Jonas, who has scored 32 goals this season, was ruled out through suspension, while Nicolas Gaitan and Greek Kostas Mitroglou failed to recover from injuries.
Roared on by the home crowd, the hosts started quickly and Bayern centre-back Joshua Kimmich did well to deflect a free-kick behind.
After Vidal headed tamely at Ederson Moraes, in the side with regular goalkeeper Julio Cesar still sidelined, Benfica struck almost from nowhere.
Eliseu skipped forward from left-back, before chipping in a delicious cross which was headed home by Jimenez for his third Champions League goal of the campaign.
Bayern were rocked and Jimenez should have put Benfica in front on aggregate just a couple of minutes after opening the scoring.
The former Atletico Madrid man was given far too much room inside the visitors’ penalty area, but he stabbed a weak effort straight at Neuer.
Just when the Portuguese champions were starting to gain a measure of control, Vidal pounced to put Bayern firmly in the driver’s seat.
Captain Philipp Lahm timed his run in behind to perfection and his cross was only palmed as far as Vidal by stand-in goalkeeper Ederson, and the Chilean did the rest with a thumping left-footed finish.
World Cup winner Mueller pounced in the 53rd minute after Martinez headed Xabi Alonso’s corner across the face of goal, to effectively seal Bayern’s place in the semi-finals with his eighth goal in Europe this term.
Benfica were suddenly stretched and Douglas Costa raced clear of a flat-footed home defence, only to see his low effort bounce back off the post.
The Bavarians were given a huge slice of luck when Martinez hacked down Benfica substitute Goncalo Guedes when the teenager was clean through on goal, but only saw yellow.
Brazilian Talisca, who had also come off the bench, delightfully curled the resulting free-kick out of Neuer’s reach and into the top corner to give Benfica a glimmer of hope.
Vitoria’s men continued to attack in a spirited display, but after Talisca narrowly missed with another free-kick, they ran out of steam.