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Football | Champions League

Neuer the hero as Bayern beat Real



Manuel Neuer was the hero for Bayern Munich on Wednesday as his side went through to the Champions League final after beating Real Madrid 3-1 on penalties in the Santiago Bernabeu.

They will face Chelsea in their own Allianz Arena in Munich on May 19th after losing their return leg 2-1 after extra-time, to send the tie into penalties with the Germans having won by the same score in the first game.

The keeper stopped Madrid's two initial spot-kicks from Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka, and Sergio Ramos blazed one over the bar before Bastian Schweinsteiger held his nerve to put the four-times European Champions through to the final.

They last appeared in a final two years ago losing 2-0 on this same stage to Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan.

Earlier Ronaldo had scored twice for Real before Arjen Robben grabbed one back in a frantic first half-hour to level the tie.

As the players gradually tired it became clearer that we would be seeing penalties becoming decisive in a semifinal for only the third time in the Champions League era.

The game started at a furious pace and German international Sami Khedira had the first chance of the game on three minutes for Real forcing a save from Neuer in the Bayern goal.

Two minutes later and Madrid were ahead thanks to Ronaldo from the penalty spot after Angel Di Maria's shot had fortuitously hit the outstretched arm of David Alaba.

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Alaba was booked for that and will miss the final, later bookings for Luiz Gustavo and Holger Badstuber means they will also miss the big game.

Bayern's response was immediate and Robben should have levelled the game when he met Alaba's cross in the six-yard box.

Iker Casillas in the Madrid goal did enough to hurry the Dutchman whose shot spun over the bar when it seemed certain he would score.

On 12 minutes Casillas blocked a shot from Toni Kroos and just when it seemed Bayern would quickly get back into the game Ronaldo struck again.

Khedira was quick in the tackle deep in Bayern's half to allow Mesut Ozil time to supply the Portuguese with a perfect pass that he converted with a well placed left footed shot.

At the other end the Bavarians searched for a breakthrough and Mario Gomez and Luiz Gustavo both came close with long shots as the match constantly switched from end to end.

Their reward came from the penalty spot after Pepe pushed Gomez, and although Casillas got a touch, it was Robben who levelled the tie at 3-3 on aggregate with the two sides having replicated the first-leg score within 27 breathless minutes.

Ronaldo had a shot that fizzed past the post and then Karim Benzema curled a right footed shot wide for Madrid.

Then Gomez should have done better for Bayern when put clear by Kroos, his shot easily blocked by Casillas with the goal at his mercy.

Pepe had to be quick to intervene when Gomez was found in front of goal from a throw-in and Casillas parried away a Robben free-kick as the Germans finished an action packed half the stronger.

Gomez glanced a header wide for Bayern on the re-start as the Germans seemed to have halted the home team's early dominance.

The second-period then settled down as both teams took a more thoughtful approach to attack and a number of niggling fouls from both defences made chances scarce.

Mourinho was the first to shuffle his pack, replacing Di Maria with Kaka, but as fulltime approached players began to tire and passes went astray.

Bayern enjoyed more possession and Gomez could have sealed it with four minutes of normal time remaining if he'd reacted quicker to Robben's pass.

Bayern continued to look the fresher side in extra-time but the game had slowed to a walking pace and arrived at the decisive penalty stage without any further clear cut chances.

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