No goals for Ronaldo but Real Madrid rallies to beat Bayern 2-1 in Champions League
It just wasn’t Bayern Munich’s night but the Champions League magic continues for Real Madrid.
The German powerhouse kept Cristiano Ronaldo off the score sheet but still lost to the Spanish giants 2-1 in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal in Munich, paying the price for a host of missed chances and defensive blunder Wednesday.
Ronaldo’s streak of scoring in 11 straight Champions League games indeed came to an end but no matter. The twice defending champions and record 12-time winners of Europe’s top club competition got goals from Marcelo in the 44th minute and substitute Marco Asensio in the 57th to offset Joshua Kimmich’s opener in the 28th.
Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes was left to rue what might have been.
“We had so many chances, it was strange,” Heynckes, a Champions League managerial winner with both Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, was quoted as saying by UEFA. “I’ve never seen us have so many chances in a semifinal, especially against a team like Real Madrid.
“We simply weren’t clinical enough with our chances and we gifted Real their goals.”
The legendary teams have now been paired together four times in the knockout phase since 2012 and it appears as if Real Madrid will come out on top for the third time — although Bayern lost the first leg of their quarterfinal 2-1 at the Allianz Arena last season prior to forcing extra time in the return leg at the Bernabeu.
Yet Bayern could go into the second leg next week severely depleted: Winger Arjen Robben and central defender Jerome Boateng both limped off prior to halftime.
Starting left back David Alaba was already ruled out before kickoff with a thigh injury, joining Arturo Vidal and longterm absentee Manuel Neuer.
‘Very silly goal’
“We didn’t score, it was tough having the setbacks of losing Robben and Boateng, and then we gave away a very silly goal before halftime,” said Heynckes, who is expected to retire at the end of the season.
“But we created a series of really good chances and just didn’t take them. We are not giving up, there are still 90 minutes to go.”
Alaba’s replacement, Rafinha, was the guilty party on Madrid’s winner.
He slipped in Real Madrid’s half as he delivered a pass and it was intercepted by Asensio, who exchanged passes with Lucas Vazquez before a fine left-footed finish.
Marcelo’s left-footed finish across goal with Bayern bossing proceedings, though, was a hammer blow to the German champions.
The speedy Brazilian left back has quite the knack for scoring at big moments, doing so in the round of 16 against Paris Saint-Germain and last eight against Juventus — when Ronaldo needed to convert an injury-time penalty in the second leg in Madrid to fend off a fightback from the ‘Old Lady’ of Italian football.
“We know that the tie cannot be over after one leg,” said Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane. “But after the Juventus match, we know we’ll need to approach the Bayern result differently, otherwise things could go badly for us.”
Marcelo was culpable on the opening goal of the game, his area of the pitch vacated as Kimmich raced forward. But more of the blame went to Real keeper Keylor Navas, who was beaten to his near post as he anticipated a cross instead of a shot.
It was only the second goal for Kimmich since October and marked the second error by Navas in consecutive Champions League games.
Navas would somewhat atone for his gaffe by stopping Franck Ribery in the 59th minute and then again four minutes later.
“Bayern’s goal was a consequence of several people making mistakes, not just Navas,” said Zidane. “He was very good in the second half.”
But Zidane and his side were let off the hook by Bayern’s wasteful finishing.
Ribery’s heavy touch when in all alone handed Real a reprieve shortly after Kimmich’s strike. German international Thomas Muller — so prolific in the Champions League — went wide and marksman Robert Lewandowski headed the ball straight to Navas in the moments after Marcelo’s leveler as Bayern looked to respond immediately.
In the 66th minute, Lewandowski and Muller collided yards from goal to prevent a likely equalizer from the latter and the Polish striker fluffed his chance in the 88th minute with only Navas to beat.
Ronaldo barely had a touch meanwhile, though did show off his skills by striking a left-footed effort into the net in the 71st minute. The only problem was that the Portuguese took the ball down with his arm.
Ronaldo unsurprisingly took his place up front but Zidane sprung a surprise in leaving both Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale out of the starting lineup, opting for Isco and Vazquez instead.
No goals for Ronaldo meant that Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah remains the leading scorer this season from any of Europe’s top five leagues. The Egyptian bagged a brace Tuesday against Roma to get to 43 goals, one more than Ronaldo.
It is shaping up to be a Real Madrid-Liverpool final in Kiev next month after the Reds thumped Roma 5-2 in the first leg of their semifinal Tuesday in Liverpool.