Atletico Madrid Hold Off Bayern Munich To Reach Champions League Final

Atletico Madrid have booked their place in the final of the Champions League despite a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena this evening.

The Spanish outfit had a 1-0 lead heading into the second leg, and a second-half strike from Antoine Griezmann in Munich proved to be decisive as Diego Simeone‘s side went through on away goals following a 2-2 draw on aggregate.

The visitors went into the match on a seven-game winning streak in all competitions, and it was they who had the first effort of the evening when Gabi‘s long-range strike forced a routine stop from Manuel Neuer.

Bayern themselves were being limited to crosses and long-range efforts of their own in the opening exchanges as Atletico once again proved tough to break down, with Arturo Vidal blazing one shot from distance well off target.

 Despite the home side enjoying the vast majority of possession it was Neuer who was the busier of the two keepers during the early stages, and he was once again called upon to deny Gabi after quarter of an hour.
Bayern’s threat did begin to grow as the first half wore on, however, and after Jan Oblak had effortlessly plucked a Vidal piledriver out of the air the hosts created the first big chance of the contest.

The fit-again Jerome Boateng was the creator by picking out a lofted through-ball over the top for Thomas Muller, but the German attacker chose to pass to Robert Lewandowski when he could have gone for goal himself, and Oblak was able to thwart the striker.

Oblak made a rare error to almost gift Bayern the opener midway through the first half when he spilt Franck Ribery’s dipping volley into a dangerous area, but Lewandowski could not steer the rebound home on the follow-up.

Philipp Lahm then blazed a decent opening off target after the ball dropped to the skipper at the back post, but the opening goal of the night did arrive shortly after the half-hour mark when Xabi Alonso‘s free kick deflected off Jose Gimenez and in – the first goal Atletico had conceded in more than 10-and-a-half hours of football.

Gimenez was heavily involved again just two minutes later as Bayern pushed for a quickfire second, with the young centre-back hauling Javi Martinez to ground from a corner to concede a penalty.

Muller, who was left out of the first leg last week, stepped up to take the spot kick, but his firm drive was too close to Oblak, who denied the Bayern man from 12 yards.

That halted the hosts’ momentum somewhat, and Atletico took a major step towards the final 10 minutes after the restart when they scored an away goal to leave Bayern needing two further strikers without reply to progress.

It was a typical counter-attacking goal from the visitors too, with Antoine Griezmann exchanging passes with Fernando Torres to race through on goal before keeping his composure to bury his finish past Neuer and into the bottom corner.

Juanfran threatened a killer second away goal for Atletico when he drove a powerful strike past the post on the hour mark, before Alonso drew a smart stop from Oblak with a low drive of his own.

Bayern’s pressure continued to grow as they looked for the two goals needed to reach the final, with Lewandowski failing to connect with one half-volley after Vidal had lifted the ball into his path.

The Polish striker did pull one back with just over 15 minutes remaining, however, as he nodded home from close range after Vidal had steered a header of his own back across the face of goal.

That gave the home side a glimmer of hope, although that appeared to be extinguished when Atletico were awarded a penalty seven minutes from time for a Martinez foul on Torres which appeared to have taken place outside the area.

Torres stepped up himself, but his penalty was almost a carbon copy of Muller’s from earlier in the match and Neuer made the save to keep his side in the tie.

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