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Real Madrid rallies late to beat Bayern 2-1 and reach another Champions League final

Updated: 2024-05-09 09:54
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Real Madrid's Joselu and Nacho celebrate after beating Bayern Munich in the semi-final of the Champions League at Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain May 8, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

MADRID — After yet another magical night at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Real Madrid is back in the Champions League final.

The 14-time European champion pulled off another thrilling comeback on Wednesday, rallying to defeat Bayern Munich 2-1 and reach the final for the second time in three seasons.

Like it happened so many times in 2022, Madrid needed some late drama to advance.

Joselu scored in the 88th minute and then in stoppage time as Madrid advanced 4-3 on aggregate to set up a final against Borussia Dortmund on June 1 in London.

"Well, it has happened again what has happened so many times before," Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "It's inexplicable. Fans who push us on, a fantastic stadium, players who never stop believing — it's simply something magical."

Bayern had taken the lead on an Alphonso Davies goal in the 68th — and then deep in stoppage time thought it had equalized but hadn't because of an offside call that Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel described as "disastrous" and "against the rules."

Joselu's first goal was a tap in after Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer spilled an easy save. The second was initially called off for offside but was eventually allowed after video review.

"You always dream of being part of moments like this," the 34-year-old Joselu said. "Not even my best dreams were as good as this."

It will be Madrid's record-extending 18th European Cup final, and ninth in the Champions League era, also a record. Madrid beat Liverpool when it last made it to the final in 2022, a season marked by several late comebacks like that one it pulled off on Wednesday.

Madrid at the time pulled off thrilling comebacks at the Bernabeu against Manchester City in the semifinals, Chelsea in the quarterfinals and Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16.

Six-time European champion Bayern was looking to return to the final for the first time since winning the competition in 2019-20. The loss meant there will be no rematch of the all-German final in 2013, when Bayern beat Dortmund to win its fifth European title.

"It hurts. It'll take a while to recover, but on the one hand it's a loss where we left it all out on the pitch," Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel said. "Of course, it's tough to accept. It's part of reality. No regrets." Dortmund, the 1997 European champion, eliminated Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 on aggregate on Tuesday.

It was a mostly even match but Madrid created the most significant scoring chances. But it had not been able to get past what was a terrific performance by Neuer, who had made a series of difficult saves to keep Bayern in the match.

But the German international faltered in the final minutes, dropping an easy ball after a shot by Vinícius Júnior and allowing Joselu — who came off the bench in the 81st — to equalize from in front of the goal.

"Manu, who had been exceptional in saving us all night, made a mistake he wouldn't make in another 100 years," Tuchel said.

Neuer said "anyone who's ever played football knows how I'm feeling right now." "That we've been knocked out in the closing stages, having led 1-0 until the 85th minute, it's extremely bitter," he said. "We'd taken one step to London, we saw ourselves in the final and now I'm lost for words."

Joselu, a German-born striker, then gave Madrid the lead a minute into stoppage time after a cross by Madrid defender Antonio Rüdiger off the left side.

The linesman initially raised the flag for offside, and it took a few moments before Madrid players and the crowd at the Bernabeu could celebrate the winner.

Bayern loudly complained at the end after a goal by Matthijs de Ligt didn't count because the referee blew the whistle for offside without letting the play be completed.

De Ligt said the linesman apologized to him, saying he "made a mistake" for raising the flag without letting the play continue.

Davies, who had entered the match in the 27th to replace the injured Serge Gnabry, had given Bayern the lead by beating Rüdiger in a one-on-one situation, cutting back toward the middle of the area before firing a right-footed shot into the far corner past Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin.

Madrid thought it had equalized a couple of minutes later but the goal was called off after video review because of a foul by defender Nacho Fernández on Joshua Kimmich.


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