Bayern’s Lahm, Alonso deserved to go out on better terms

Ronaldo

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo fights for the ball with Bayern's Philipp Lahm. (Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP)

• UEFA Champions League – Real Madrid 4 (Ronaldo 76’, 105’, 110’, Asensio 112’), Bayern Munich 2 (Lewandowski 51’, Ramos (og) 78’)

GAME RECAP IN A SENTENCE

Real Madrid clinched their spot in the semifinals with an exciting win at home in the second leg, but it wasn’t without controversy, as a trio of contentious calls went against Bayern Munich, including Cristiano Ronaldo’s second goal of the game in extra time that sealed the aggregate series for los blancos.

HOW IT WENT DOWN

After losing 2-1 at home in the first leg, Bayern visited the Bernabeu needing to score at least two goals to advance. For all of the Germans’ bright possession play in the first half, though, they couldn’t come close to converting in the final third of the pitch. In fact, it was Real who looked the more likely to score, with Jerome Boateng making a brilliant goal-line clearance to deny Sergio Ramos of a sure goal.

The tide turned early in the second half when Arjen Robben was hauled down inside the 18-yard box. Robert Lewandowski cooly converted from the spot, and it looked as though the Germans had the momentum. Cristiano Ronaldo levelled the score in the 76th minute, though, nodding home a lovely chipped pass into the box from Casemiro. The game turned again just moments later when a goal-mouth scramble led to Ramos poking the ball into his own net, restoring Bayern’s lead and giving the Germans a life line.

Six minutes from time, another twist in the tale, this time when Arturo Vidal was issued a second yellow card for a foul on Real’s Marco Asensio. Replays showed that the Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai got it spectacularly wrong – Vidal cleanly won the ball. It was salt in the wounds for Bayern, as just minutes earlier Casemiro should have earned a second yellow card for hacking down Robben. He stayed on the pitch after earning a warning.

Reduced to 10 men, Bayern didn’t bunker, and instead doubled down on their intentions to attack Real with purpose. But another horrible decision went against them in the first extra time period when Ronaldo scored from an offside position. Instead of being nullified, the goal stood, and ultimately decided the aggregate series in Real’s favour. It was over for 10-men Bayern at that point, with another goal by Ronaldo and Asensio compounding the Bavarians’ misery.

KEY MOMENT

105’ GOAL! Real Madrid 2-2 Bayern Munich: With the series tied 3-3 on aggregate, both sides went for it the early stages of extra time. It was Real Madrid, though, who struck as Sergio Ramos curled a perfect ball into the penalty area for Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese chested it down and then side-footed it past goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. It was a wonderfully crafted goal, and a great finish by Ronaldo. Problem was, he was offside by a good yard, and it never should have counted. Instead, it stood up as the winning goal in this aggregate series.

TALKING POINT

Will this lead to increased calls for the use of instant replay? You have to think it will. In such a high-profile game, in the biggest club competition in Europe, and involving two of the biggest teams in the world, how could it not? Bad calls happen, and refs aren’t perfect. We all understand that. But we’re talking about three blatantly wrong decisions in one game that undeniably tipped the scales in favour of the home side over the visitors. That’s inexcusable. Kudos to Real for playing with such resolve and grit. But Bayern has every right to feel aggrieved after this shocking performance by the officials.

QUICK TAKE

Farewell, Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso. Both Bayern stars previously announced their intention to retire at the end of the season, which means Tuesday night’s contest was their last on the European stage. What a shame that it had to end like this for these two terrific servants of the game – who between them won three Champions League titles and played in 239 games in the competition – with Bayern bowing out after a trio of crucial calls went against them. In the case of Lahm, it was especially painful to see him go out like this. Even at 33, it was clear from Tuesday’s showing that he has plenty of game left in his legs, and could continue to play at the highest level. The German has been one of the most cultured defenders and versatile players of his generation. He will be sorely missed.

STANDOUT STAT

MAN OF THE MATCH

Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid: Who else? Yeah, okay, he was offside by a good yard on his second goal – and maybe on the third one, although that was very tight. Still, this was a fantastic performance by the Portuguese star, who displayed his trademark finishing skills and knack for scoring hugely important goals at crucial times. Arjen Robben was buzzing and was Bayern Munich’s best player on the night, but he didn’t manage to score. Unlike the Dutchman, Ronaldo made sure his marvellous play led to tangible results and counted for something.

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