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Thursday 8 December 2016

Bayern battle but Barca make sure of final destination

Bayern Munich failed to summon the miracle they required to prevent Barcelona easing into the UEFA Champions League final at the Allianz Arena last night.

Thomas Muller's 74th minute strike at least gave Pep Guardiola (inset) and his men the satisfaction of victory on the night but Bayern's 3-2 win could not stop the visitors coasting to Berlin with a 5-3 aggregate success.

Bayern dared to dream when Mehdi Benatia powered home a seventh minute header but a quick double from Brazilian Neymar effectively sunk their hopes of staging an astonishing comeback.

opener

Benatia's opener which caught out Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was just what the home fans dreamed of and Bastian Schweinsteiger had them hoping for more when he fired over the bar.

But Bayern paid for defensive errors in the 15th minute when Lionel Messi brilliantly cut open the German rearguard to feed Luis Suarez, who unselfishly crossed for Neymar to prod home the equaliser on the night.

Muller missed an excellent chance to put Bayern back in front when Ter Stegen flapped away his goal-bound effort, then the keeper proved equal to a poor effort from Lewandowski as Bayern dominated.

But Bayern's inevitable desire to attack cost them dear again in the 28th minute when Suarez crossed from the right and found Neymar in plenty of space to knock home the visitors' second.

Ter Stegen was called on again in the 28th minute to paw a Lewandowski effort off the line at the second attempt as Barcelona looked increasingly happy to sit back and conjure fleeting counter-attacks.

chance

Philipp Lahm almost cued up a fine chance for Schweinsteiger in the 49th minute and 10 minutes later Lewandowski turned on the edge of the box and drilled a superb low shot past Ter Stegen to draw level on the night.

Muller shot just wide as Bayern began to dominate, and they got the third goal their performance deserved in the 74th minute when Muller steered home after Schweinsteiger played a neat lay-off with his back to goal.

Lewandowski saw an effort deflected wide as Bayern looked to go out in style, but with time ticking by and the home side's slim hopes long extinguished, the last say was almost left for Barcelona.

Neymar was sent into space in the left side of the box and instead of going for his hat-trick he unselfishly tried to find Messi, only for his attempted pass to evade the Argentinian and roll harmlessly across the face of an empty goal.

bayern munich 3 barcelona 2 (Barcelona won 5-3 on aggregate)

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