Tuesday, May 3, 2016

It Happened in Europe: Atletico outlasts Bayern Munich to reach final

Bayern Munich 2-1 Atletico Madrid (2-2 on aggregate, Atletico Madrid wins inn away goals)
Bayern Munich gave up a late goal last week to make their home tilt with Atletico Madrid a little more difficult, but far from impossible. One big problem for Bayern's efforts was that Atletico Madrid were riding a 600+ minute streak without conceding a goal. The Germans were on the front foot for most of the first half. They had several chances that were thwarted by Jan Oblak saves. The Atletico Madrid keeper and his strong hands were the only thing keeping Bayern from levelling the score before the half hour mark. Xabi Alonso finally broke that lengthy spell of defensive success with a free kick in the 31st minute. His effort found a hole in the Atletico wall and deflected into the net off a defender's legs to level the tie.

Bayern kept the pressure on after scoring. After probably deserving a penalty for handball less than a minute after the goal, they did get a penalty not even three minutes later. Jose Gimenez took down Franck Ribery in the penalty area as the Frenchman was bolting for a cross. Jan Oblak stepped up huge again, however, and stoned Thomas Muller from the spot. that kept the match at 1-0 heading into half time.

Bayern continued to hold three quarters of the ball in the second half, but Atletico Madrid ended up stealing the massive away goal. A counter attack in the 54th minute beat the Bayern offside trap and allowed Antoine Griezmann to bolt through on goal all by himself. That's never a situation any defensive unit wants to be in, especially when it presents the opposition with an away goal in the Champions League semi-final. Bayern would now need to score twice in order to book their flight for Milan later this month.

They would get one goal back in 74th the minute. Robert Lewandowski provided the headed finish on the all important first goal I the comeback. Unfortunately, despite done wonderfully close chances, the second never came. Bayern Munich threw everything at their Spanish opponents, but the stellar goalkeeping of Jan Oblak was denying Pep Guardiola's European dreams.

Things seemed to be breaking their way, too. Atletico Madrid won a questionable penalty in the 84th minute that was saved by Manuel Neuer, much like how Muller was denied in the first half. But nothing was enough, in the end.

Atletico Madrid will move on to the final in Milan to face either Manchester City or Real Madrid, who are knotted at zero heading into tomorrow's second leg.

They might have to win that match without they're manager, Diego Simeone, who made physical contact with the fourth official in the dying minutes of this match. We shall see what sort of discipline UEFA hands down on him.

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