There was no repeat of last season’s semifinal capitulation, but Bayern Munich’s hopes of winning the Champions League on home soil have been ended by another Spanish side.
Barcelona progressed to the final of European football’s top club competition for the eighth time Tuesday with a 5-3 aggregate win over the German champion, despite losing 3-2 at the Allianz Arena.
Medhi Benatia gave the Bavarian fans hope of another incredible comeback when he headed home a corner in the seventh minute, but Barcelona’s star forward trio combined twice to effectively seal the outcome inside half an hour.
Both times the moves started with Lionel Messi, then Luis Suarez provided killer passes to Neymar as Bayern’s defense was caught on the counter-attack.
Robert Lewandowski made up for his first-half frustration with a fine equalizer from the edge of the area with half an hour to play, and Thomas Muller put Bayern ahead on the night with a similar curled effort, but last week’s 3-0 deficit from the Nou Camp proved too much to overcome – though the defeat did end Barca’s 18-match unbeaten run.
For Barcelona it was sweet revenge from the 7-0 semifinal thrashing by Bayern two seasons ago, but for the Catalan club’s former coach Pep Guardiola it was another last-four lament following last year’s 4-0 home crushing at the hands of Real Madrid.
Luis Enrique has now emulated his former teammate Guardiola in leading Barcelona to the Champions League final, which the club last managed four years ago when it beat Manchester United to secure the title for the fourth time.
Like last year, Bayern has suffered a miserable end to the season despite clinching the Bundesliga title with weeks to spare. Guardiola has seen his side lose five successive matches, including defeat in the German Cup semifinals, and he will end this campaign with just one trophy – having claimed four in his first year in Germany.
Barcelona, on the other hand, is on course to repeat the treble that Guardiola masterminded in 2009, with Enrique’s team leading La Liga by four points with two games to play and facing Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final – though both of those competitions are in limbo due to the national football federation’s dispute with the government over new TV rights revenue legislation.
“We’re one win away from winning each of the three competitions,” Enrique told reporters. “This is our mission.”
Bayern fans were hoping for a repeat of the quarterfinals, when their team overcame a 3-1 first-leg deficit to thrash Porto 6-1 at home and secure a place in the last four for the fourth successive year.
And Benatia’s header raised the roof, as the Morocco defender rose highest to nod home Xabi Alonso’s corner.
But Barca quietened the crowd just eight minutes later when Messi’s sublime pass caught out the home defense, allowing Suarez to set up Neymar with a simple equalizer.
The Brazilian then joined Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Shakhtar Donetsk’s Luiz Adriano on nine goals in the competition – second only behind Messi’s 10.
The Argentine superstar headed on a long ball and Suarez again squared to Neymar on the left, and he beat World Cup winner Manuel Neuer at the near post.
At the other end, Barca’s German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Steger made several fine saves, including a reflex effort to first deny Robert Lewandowski and then claw the ball to safety off the line.
Lewandowski, playing in a mask to protect his broken jaw and nose, made up for his first-half misses when he danced free on the edge of the penalty area and left Ter Steger with no chance for his sixth of the competition this season.
The Poland striker and Bastian Schweinsteiger then combined to tee up Muller in the 74th minute for the forward’s seventh Champions League goal, but Bayern was left to rue that first-leg defeat in the Catalan capital, where Messi’s late double and another from Neymar put their team in complete control.
Of 125 first-leg games in the competition won 3-0, only six teams have managed to reverse that deficit.
“We knew they would push from the off and we got the two goals that calmed us down,” Barca captain Andres Iniesta told reporters.
“In the second half they pushed forward, but we need to celebrate being in another final. We need to finish what we have started. We can’t settle for less.”
Defending champion Real Madrid will try to set up a second successive all-Spanish title showdown on Wednesday at home to Juventus, but faces a 2-1 deficit against the Italian league winner.
Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas is set to join Xavi Hernandez as the only player to have made 150 Champions League appearances – the 35-year-old Barcelona midfielder reached that milestone when he came on as a second-half substitute against Bayern.
The final will be played in Berlin on June 6.