By Mark Elkington
By Mark Elkington
MADRID, April 25, 2012 (Reuters)
Bayern Munich ended Real Madrid’s bid for a 10th European crown when they eliminated the Spaniards 3-1 on penalties in a nerve-jangling Champions League semi-final second leg at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.
Bayern will play Chelsea in next month’s final at their own stadium in Munich after the London club eliminated holders Barcelona 3-2 on aggregate on Tuesday.
With the sides locked at 3-3 on aggregate after Real’s 2-1 win after extra time, Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was the hero for the Bundesliga side when he saved Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka’s spot kicks in a dramatic shootout.
Real keeper Iker Casillas then revived Real’s hopes by saving efforts from Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm but after Sergio Ramos skied his penalty over the bar Bastian Schweinsteiger rifled home to send the Bavarians through.
“I have not witnessed something like that in 40 years of professional football,” said Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
“This tops everything we experienced in the 70s and 80s. I am very happy and very proud. That was top quality football.”
The home side had quickly cancelled out Bayern’s 2-1 first-leg win when Ronaldo netted a sixth-minute penalty and then produced a smart finish from the edge of the area eight minutes later.
Bayern pulled a goal back in the 27th minute when Arjen Robben also netted from the spot.
The visitors started to settle into the game and Robben and Mario Gomez both went close, with Karim Benzema also looking dangerous for the hosts.
After the break, both sides were more cautious but with extra time approaching Gomez squandered a chance to send Bayern through when he took too long to control and Khedira was able to get back and smother his weak shot.
Extra time followed a similar pattern with Real’s only real chance falling to substitute Kaka but Bayern managed to clear their lines.
“It was a very exciting match but in the end penalties are always a lottery,” said Casillas.
“We shouldn’t dwell on it too much. We played very well, created chances and passed the ball around well.”
Real’s latest failure in Europe’s elite club competition is a huge blow for the capital side, whose president Florentino Perez has spent hundreds of millions of euros on players and coaching staff chasing the elusive 10th continental title.
He lured coach Jose Mourinho from Inter Milan in 2010 in a bid to end Barcelona’s Spanish and European domination but they have tripped up at the semi-final stage for a second consecutive season after falling to Barca in 2011.