MUNICH: Bayern coach Pep Guardiola was left with no option but to wish Barcelona all the best for next month’s Champions League Final in Berlin after conceding defeat to his old club.
Barcelona lost 3-2 in the Allianz-Arena but won the semi-final 5-3 on aggregate for a victory which was never in doubt despite a quick start and then late rally from the German champions.
Mehdi Benatia powered home a seventh-minute header but a quick double from Brazilian Neymar – on assists first from Lionel Messi and then from Luis Suarez – effectively sunk their hopes of an improbable comeback.
Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen made fine saves from Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski (twice) and Bastian Schweinsteiger before Lewandowski levelled and then Muller shot Bayern ahead in the 74th minute.
Barcelona’s trip in Berlin will be their first appearance in the final since 2011 and coach Luis Enrique insisted he was not bothered by the fact of defeat on the night.
One more win . . .
He said: “We’re very content but now we need to win the final, we still have to seal the deal.”
Guardiola, who guided Barca to two of their recent Champions League triumphs, admitted all hope was lost after a Messi-inspired Barcelona had plundered a 3-0 victory in last week’s first leg.
He said: “We played a good game and we can walk out of the stadium with our heads held high. We are sad, of course, but we lost this semi-final back in Barcelona. Congratulations to Barça also, I hope they win their fifth Champions League final in Berlin.
“Messi is incredible, back to his best as when I used to train him. He’s the best player of all time. I can compare him with Pele.”
Real Madrid face Juventus in Spain tonight, seeking to overturn a 2-1 first leg defeat in defence of the crown they won against Atletico de Madrid last May in Lisbon.
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