Bayern Munich ease through semi-finals

Bayern Munich secured a fifth consecutive Champions League semi-final appearance by battling past Benfica.

The Portuguese side, trailing 1-0 from the first leg, gave themselves hope when Raul Jimenez headed them in front in the return tie at home.

But Arturo Vidal thumped in a shot and Thomas Muller guided in a close-range effort to put the Germans in control.

Talisca curled in a free-kick for Benfica after Javi Martinez escaped a red card before Bayern progressed.

Bayern boss Pep Guardiola will join Manchester City this summer and the two clubs could meet in the last four when the draw is made on Friday.

Vidal verve gives Bayern edge
Vidal’s effort had given his side a slender lead going into the second leg in Lisbon and, after they went behind on the night against the run of play, he equalised with a vital away goal.

The Chile midfielder, who helped Juventus to the final of the competition last season, is a powerful presence in midfield with his all-action style and gives the Bundesliga side an extra cutting edge.

However, Vidal – along with Martinez, whose last-ditch tackle on Goncalo Guedes might have been viewed as a professional foul – can consider himself slightly fortunate he will not be suspended for the next round.

Vidal was one booking away from missing his side’s next match and a late challenge on Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez could easily have seen him cautioned by referee Bjorn Kuipers.

Benfica had less than 30% of possession in Lisbon, but Jimenez put them in front and could have quickly doubled their advantage and put them in front in the tie.

He controlled a right-wing cross but could not get enough power on his close-range shot as Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer saved.

Bayern’s goals then left the Portuguese side needing to add three more of their own, and that never really looked likely as they missed out on a first semi-final appearance since 1990.

Manager reaction
Benfica boss Rui Vitoria: “We fought until the end, so I have to congratulate my players and these amazing supporters.

“We faced a very powerful team that knows how to dictate the pace of the game. We promised we would go eye to eye with Bayern and we did so.”

Bayern manager Pep Guardiola: “We played with a big personality. We remained composed and cool in the head even after falling a goal behind. We played very well.

“Every team at this stage is very, very good. But reaching the semi-finals for a fifth time in a row is a big thing.”
What next?

Bayern will aim to extend their seven-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga when they host Schalke on Saturday. Benfica have a two-point lead at the top of the Portuguese Primeira Liga and are next in action on Monday, 18 April against Vitoria Setubal.

Source: BBC