Fri, May 03, 2013 - Page 18 News List

Bayern cruise to final after crushing Barca

AFP, BARCELONA

Bayern Munich midfielder Arjen Robben, left, vies with Barcelona defender Marc Bartra on Wednesday in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final clash at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain.

Photo: AFP

Bayern Munich cruised into their third Champions League final in four years as a 3-0 win over Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Wednesday gave them an incredible 7-0 aggregate semi-final victory.

The absence of Lionel Messi from Barca’s starting line-up almost eradicated any hope of an unlikely comeback before the game had even begun, but Bayern showed that their 4-0 first-leg win last week had been no fluke with a display of controlled dominance.

Arjen Robben opened the scoring with a trademark left-foot strike just after halftime before a Gerard Pique own-goal and Thomas Mueller’s header in the final 20 minutes ensured Bayern booked their place in an all-German final against Borussia Dortmund at London’s Wembley Stadium on May 25 in some style.

Afterward, Pique admitted it was one of the most difficult nights he has had in his five years at the club.

“Perhaps it was the bitterest night I have had at Barcelona,” he told Spanish Canal Plus television.

Meanwhile, for Robben it was unconfined joy as he aims to make amends at Wembley for missing a penalty that could have won Bayern the trophy on home soil against Chelsea last season.

“That’s history — 4-0 at home and then 3-0 here, we should be proud of that and enjoy it. Now we have to win this thing,” he told Sky Germany.

Already without Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba through injury and suspension respectively, Barca were handed another huge blow before kick-off as the persistence of a hamstring injury suffered in the first leg of their quarter-final tie against Paris Saint-Germain left Messi benched.

Without their talisman, Barca started tentatively and only a desperate sliding challenge from Pique prevented Robben from having a clear shot on goal after he galloped clear down the left on 11 minutes.

Pique had to be alert again seven minutes later as he again slid in to deny Philipp Lahm at the end of a wonderful Bayern move.

Pedro finally forced Manuel Neuer into a save on 23 minutes with a long-range effort and Xavi then had the hosts’ best chance of the first period as he hooked over on the volley after Cesc Fabregas had chested the ball inside the area.

However, Barca were still out of sorts with a number of uncharacteristically long balls failing to find their target and a weak effort by Adriano was the only other effort they managed on goal before the break.

It only took three minutes after the restart for Bayern to completely wipe away any lingering doubts they would be traveling to London for the final when Robben collected a raking cross-field pass from David Alaba, cut inside Adriano onto his favored left foot and buried a rasping drive past Victor Valdes.

Robben ought to have had a second moments later as another quick Bayern break caught Barca outnumbered at the back, but this time the former Real Madrid man could not get the required touch to Franck Ribery’s cross and the ball dribbled wide.

However, further pain was inflicted upon the hosts 18 minutes from time when a beautiful pass from Luis Gustavo played in Ribery down the left and his cross was sliced into his own net by Pique.

Four minutes later it was 3-0 on the night as more terrific play from Ribery saw him burst past Alex Song and dink a lovely ball to the far post for Mueller to head home his third goal of the tie.

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