Barcelona reach Champions League final despite Munich loss
Munich, May 13 (IANS/EFE)
FC Barcelona will play in its eighth Champions League final next month after defeating Bayern Munich 5-3 on aggregate, despite losing 3-2 here in the second leg of the semi-final.
Brazilian striker Neymar and German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen were the difference-makers for Barcelona, who began the contest with a 3-0 lead after last week's first leg at the Nou Camp.
Facing the all, but impossible, task of overcoming a deficit against an in-form Barcelona squad, Bayern got off to a promising start on Tuesday, as Medhi Benatia headed in a Xabi Alonso corner to put the home side up 1-0 in the 7th minute.
Majority of the 71,000 fans at Munich's Allianz Arena took heart, but the joy did not last long. Neymar got the first of his two goals just eight minutes later, finishing off a play that began with Lionel Messi's brilliant through ball to Luis Suarez deep in Bayern territory.
The German club was left needing to score at least four goals and would have made a start in the 19th minute if Ter Stegen had not made a spectacular stop on Thomas Müller.
The Barcelona keeper rose to the occasion again just minutes later, denying Robert Lewandowski, before one of Bayern's all-too-frequent defensive lapses enabled Neymar's decisive second goal in the 29th minute, again fed by Suarez.
Though the crowd turned despondent, their team managed to generate two solid chances before the half and the Barcelona custodian had to make another great save against Lewandowski.
Bayern concentrated more on defending in the second half, yet Lewandowski made the final 20 minutes more exciting by finally beating Ter Stegen to even the score at 2-2.
Müller put the home team up 3-2 in the 74th minute with an excellent shot from outside the area, renewing Bayern's hopes for a miracle comeback, but Barcelona hung on to secure the victory.