Final at home: The Bayern dream comes true

FC Bayern Munich made their dream of playing in the Champions League final, at home in their own stadium, a reality after an unbelievably tantalising and dramatic match. The second leg of the semi-final at Real Madrid appeared to be turning towards disaster for the German record-winning champions, when the first 15 minutes saw Cristiano Ronaldo score twice to give the upcoming Spanish champions a 2-0 lead -- first a penalty for hand ball in the 6th minute then a ground shot in the 14th minute. It marked 10 goals in his tenth Champions League match for the proud Portuguese, and his 55th goal in the 50th competitive league match of the season. Ronaldo celebrated on the pitch with the pose of a winner, and the Madrilens felt like victors just four days after their 2-1 win at FC Barcelona, bringing them very close to the Spanish championship title.

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FC Bayern rejoice after their 3-1 penalty shoot-out win against Real Madrid. Thomas Mueller (left) and Philipp Lahm clench their fists, Holger Badstuber applauds. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


But the Bavarians held out. They resisted, they dominated the match, performed brilliantly and finally achieved a fantastic triumph over strong opponents. After an aggregate final score of 6-4 from 120 minutes of play and the penalty shoot-out, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, the chairman of the board of Bayern Munich, rejoiced: “We have released incredible powers here. A dream has come true”. The final at home at Froettmaning on May 19 against Chelsea FC was ascertained. And President Uli Hoeness, who had hoped so intensively that his team would reach the final, displayed the greatest joy. “We have done it for our President”, said Bastian Schweinsteiger, who achieved the victory with the final penalty kick. “The final in Munich is a matter of the heart. We also want to win it and celebrate all together on the 19th of May”.

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“Road to Munich”: The players of Bayern and Real take to the pitch in Madrid through a gate advertising the final. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


It didn’t appear at first as if the Bavarians could overcome their baptism of fire at the Bernabeu. But, at 2-0 down, Arjen Robben displayed courage to score coolly from the penalty spot, despite having kicked away Bayern’s last chance of the domestic title when he missed from the spot in the match of giants against Dortmund. The score was 2-1 after 27 minutes, and remained like that till the 90-minute whistle. Since Munich had won the first leg 2-1, the nerve-racking encounter between the two European football powers went into extra time. As the score remained 2-1 after a thrilling 120 minutes, the penalty shoot-out had to decide. Bayern won the tension-packed few minutes 3-1.

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Cristiano Ronaldo (right), double scorer, fights for the ball with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Jerome Boateng (sitting). (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


Rummenigge: “I love Manuel Neuer”

“I have never seen anything like it in 40 years of professional football. That tops everything from the 1970s and 1980s. It was the most emotional match in my entire career”, Rummenigge enthused. “I am terribly happy and proud. That was football at the highest level and no game for weak nerves”. The penalty shoot-out produced its own, unique drama. “I have to honestly confess I love Manuel Neuer”, said Rummenigge, praising the Bayern goalkeeper in a very special way. The German international keeper saved the first two penalty shots from Ronaldo and Kaka, but then Philipp Lahm and Toni Kroos also failed to put the ball into the net. “I was jittering in the stands. When Philipp Lahm missed I thought I would die”, Hoeness disclosed. David Alaba and Mario Gomez scored for his Bavarians, while reigning World Cup and European champion Sergio Ramos hit his penalty for Real over the bar. Just Xabi Alonso managed to put the ball behind former Schalke goalkeeper Neuer.

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Manuel Neuer saves the second penalty from Kaka after he had already parried Cristiano Ronaldo’s shot. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


It was now up to Schweinsteiger to make the dream of the final a reality with the last penalty. The German international coolly did just that, and the Bavarians rejoiced with great intensity after they had conquered the Bernabeu stronghold. Real coach Jose Mourinho congratulated the Bavarians who had defeated his world star ensemble, including German internationals Sami Khedira and Mesut Oezil. But the evening was bitter for a Bayern trio: Alaba, Luis Gustavo and a seemingly inconsolable Holger Badstuber were shown yellow cards and will miss the final as they had received warnings in previous matches.

Final opponents Chelsea stopped FC Barcelona

The great aim had finally been achieved, however, with the last exit from an after all great season taken. The Bavarians will meet Chelsea FC in the final at Allianz Arena on May 19, after the Londoners ousted clear favourites FC Barcelona, with super star Lionel Messi, with a 2-2 draw (2-1 in the first leg) on the previous evening. Bayern Munich are now facing two finals. The DFB Cup final in the second part of the national duel of giants against Dortmund in Berlin on May 12, and one week later the 2012 German runners-up could become the first club in Champions League history to be crowned at their own stadium. This feat has never been achieved by any team since 1993. The day after the victory in Madrid it was disclosed that defender Dante will move from Moenchengladbach to Munich, and striker Ivica Olic will leave Munich to join Wolfsburg.