MUNICH: Bayern Munich put Barcelona to the sword in the Allianz Arena to drive within clear reach of the Champions League Final – at Wembley next month – for the third time in four seasons.
The German champions-elect won 4-0 thought the Spanish league leaders complained that one goal was offside and another benefited from a clear foul by a Bayern forward in the build-up. Thomas Muller (two), Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben scored the goals.
Leo Messi started a Barcelona game for the first time since suffering a hamstring strain in the quarter-finals against Paris Saint-Germain but he was clearly not fully fit and played only a peripheral role.
Victory by such a margin against the old club of Bayern’s next coach, Pep Guardiola, enhanced the delight in Munich sparked initially by morning confirmation that the summer will see brilliant young Mario Gotze arriving from Borussia Dortmund, their greatest domestic rivals.
Dortmund could yet make next month’s Wembley climax an all-German affair: they face Real Madrid in the other semi-final opener.
Ironically, Bayern’s veteran coach Jupp Heynckes won his only Champions Cup as a coach when he was boss of Madrid in 1998.
Barcelona enjoyed more of the possession game but Bayern, who had wrapped up the Bundesliga in record time and scored 16 goals in the space of 10 recent days, matched them for organisation with Spanish midfielder Javi Martinez one of their heroes along with Arjen Robben, Muller and Franck Ribery.
Bayern, determined to make amends for last May’s home final defeat by Chelsea, opened up in the 25th minute. Robben’s cross from the right was headed down by Dante for Muller to nod in from close range off the legs of keeper Victor Valdes.
Bayern extended their lead in the 49th minute when Robben’s corner was headed down at the far post by Muller and Gomez jabbing the ball home from close range. Gomez, deputising for suspended Mario Mandzukic, was shown by replays to have been marginally offside.
Bayern scored a third in the 72nd minute after Robben, on the right, eluded Jordi Alba who was prevented from a repeat challenge by a bodycheck from Muller. Six minutes later Muller put Bayern out of sight after David Alaba skated around Barcelona’s embattled defence.
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