Champions League

Bayern Restore Pride In Draw

Jürgen Klinsmann got his wish as Bayern Munich departed the Champions League competition with heads held high, even if Seydou Keita denied them victory on the night as Barcelona eased through to the semi-finals with a comfortable 5-1 aggregate triumph.

After their 4-0 first-leg defeat in Catalonia, Bayern were determined to restore pride, and appeared on course for a morale-boosting win when Franck Ribéry put them in front early in the second half. However, though deprived of coach Josep Guardiola, who was serving a one-match touchline ban, a subdued Barça sprang to life to conjure an equaliser through Seydou Keita to reach the last four for the third time in four years.

Klinsmann had promised his team would be on the front foot from the opening minute, and Bayern were true to their coach’s word as they showed more enterprise in the first five minutes than in all 90 of their loss last Wednesday. The German titleholders should even have raised hopes of an improbable comeback with an early goal, only for Luca Toni to miscue his header from José Ernesto Sosa’s pinpoint delivery. While the Argentinian, a surprise inclusion in place of Bastian Schweinsteiger, provided menace on the right, a penetrating Ribéry run down the left forced a corner from which Zé Roberto was given a clear sight of goal, but the Brazilian scuffed his effort.

After riding out the early storm, Barcelona eased their way back into it, even if they only provided glimpses of the incisive forward play that had undone Bayern at the Camp Nou. With Thierry Henry on the bench following illness, Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto’o led the line but when they did threaten Lucio and Philipp Lahm – both absent through injury in Spain – showed why Klinsmann had talked glowingly of the stability the duo would provide. The Brazilian centre-half, in particular, provoking thoughts of what might have been with a superb lunging block to deny Eto’o a carbon copy of his first-leg goal after Messi’s ingenious reverse pass had again sliced open the Bayern back line.

It was from a through ball of which Messi would have been proud that Bayern reduced their arrears barely two minutes into the second half. Zé Roberto’s carefully crafted pass found Ribéry, who bided his time before sidestepping Víctor Valdés and rifling in. Though the capacity crowd at the Fußball Arena München erupted, the French international’s muted celebrations suggested he knew his fourth goal of the competition was little more than window dressing.

Barcelona soon set about restoring their four-goal cushion, Messi almost guiding in Daniel Alves’s deep cross, while Lucio intervened with Eto’o poised to strike. The goal the visitors had been threatening came, though, 17 minutes from time as Keita’s crisp drive put the finishing touch to an intricate move orchestrated by Andrés Iniesta. A Xavi Hernández free-kick rippled the side-netting of Hans Jörg Butt’s goal in the closing stages, but it mattered not; Barcelona had already done more than enough at home and will hope to repeat the feat in the first leg of their semi-final against Chelsea on 28 April.

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