Top 5 matches of UEFA Champions League 2012-13
The UEFA Champions League came to an end on 25th May as Bayern Munich overcame their domestic rivals Borussia Dortmund to win the holy grail of European football. After two heartbreaking final losses in the last three years, the Bavarians finally got their hands on a trophy they last won way back in 2001. Let us take a look back at the five best matches from this year’s tournament:
5) Real Madrid vs. Manchester City 3-2 (Group D Match)
This was the first ‘Big’ match of the season in the group of death (Group D). The English and Spanish champions faced each other at the Santiago Bernabéu and the match lived up to its billing.
This match had all the ingredients: a tentative start, missed chances, goals galore, a stunning comeback and over-the-top celebrations. A game that seemed like it would finish in a tame 0-0 draw, suddenly produced 5 goals in the last 20 minutes. Real twice came from behind to snatch victory from City’s grasp.
There was nothing to mention in the first 60 minutes with Ronaldo and co. failing to deliver the final ball each time inside the box. City, on the other hand, were content to play the waiting game and catch Madrid off guard on the counter.
The match suddenly burst into life in 69th minute with Edin Dzeko poking the ball home from Yaya Toure‘s pass to give Man City 1-0. Marcelo quickly equalised for Real in 76th minute to make it 1-1. In 85th minute, Alexander Kolarov gave City the lead from a well taken free-kick. But City were stunned two minutes later as Benzema scored, firing in a low powerful shot in bottom corner. And then, the man himself, Ronaldo went past a couple of defenders to score home past Joe Hart in 90th minute to give Real an incredible win
It put Real on the right track after a somewhat indifferent start to the season. And Jose Mourinho’s knee-slide celebration after his compatriot’s winner became an internet hit.
4) Borussia Dortmund vs. Malaga 3-2 (Quarter final – 2nd leg)
The two underdogs of the tournament faced off in the 2nd leg of quarterfinals at Dortmund’s fortress – Signal Iduna Park. After a dour 0-0 draw in the first leg in Spain, they dished out quite a classic.
Both teams had already created waves across Europe. The Spaniards, Malaga, were a force to reckon with, with starlet Isco in the form of his life. The Germans, Borussia, with their young brigade and attacking style, had already won fans across Europe and were favourites to go through.
Dortmund had the clear-cut chances, but it was Malaga who went 1-0 up. Joaquin played a brilliant one-two with Isco to shoot past the custodian Roman Weidenfeller. Then Robert Lewandowski made it 1-1 after some brilliant incisive passing between Marco Reus and Mario Gotze.
In the 2nd half, Dortmund were all over the Spaniards, only for some brilliant goalkeeping from Caballero to deny the Germans on numerous occasions. Eliseu must have thought that he scored the important goal of his career as he gave Malaga 2-1 lead in 82nd minute. But Dortmund had other ideas.
Reus scored in 91st minute to keep the match alive and Santana scored the winner from a melee inside the box, though replays showed off-side, to send the home crowd into ruptures. Malaga were left cursing their luck as they were just seconds away from reaching the semi-final.
3) Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid 4-1 (Semi final – 1st Leg)
Dortmund showed the word why they are one of the best teams in the world on current form in this game. Real Madrid were happy to get the supposedly “weakest” team as their semi-final opponents. But Los Blancos got a rude reality check at iduna Park as they paid a heavy price for taking the yellow-and-blacks lightly.
This match will be remembered for Lewndowski, who became the first man to score 4 goals in the semi-final and the first against Real Madrid. Real were caught napping as Dortmund were brutal in front of goal. They outran, outthought and outclassed the Whites. Even after 90 minutes, Real didn’t know what hit them.
Lewandowski’s goals were a treat to watch. He scored the first, taking the ball in his stride, from Gotze’s cross to shoot past Lopez. Though Ronaldo pulled one back for Real just before half time, the visitors were doing most of the running. Within 5 minutes of the restart, Lewandowski cleverly beat the off-side trap to score his second. But his third goal was the best. Lewandowski got a loose ball from a deflection, and blasted the ball into the top of the net on the turn. He got his 4th in 66th minute as he sent Lopez in the wrong way from penalty kick.
Lewandowski, single-handedly, almost put an end to Real’s “La Decima” dreams and suddenly became the toast of every club’s summer transfer plans.
2) Bayern Munich vs. Barcelona 4-0 (Semi final 1st Leg)
This match gave us the first glimpse of German football taking over Spain. You don’t often see the great Barca side suffer a four goal defeat. The Allianz Arena crowd witnessed this astonishing feat in the 1st leg of the semi-final as Barca’s no. 10, Messi, played despite not being fully fit.
Though Barca had the better possession, Bayern were able to cut down their passes and the final ball supply. La Blaugrana missed the services of Carles Puyol immensely as their defence was at sixes and sevens. Bayern was the better side in the opening exchanges and took the lead in 25th minute. Thomas Muller scored from an Arjen Robben’s corner.
In the 2nd half, Bayern continued their domination, with Barca’s offense diminishing with every passing minute. In 49th minute, Mario Gomez scored the second goal, albeit an offside position, as he bundled in an open net after good work by Muller and Robben. In the 73th minute, Robben was again in the thick of things, as he burst into the box, though helped by Muller’s block on Jordi Alba, to shoot past Valdes in the far post. And when Muller got his 2nd, and Bayern’s 4th, Barca were looking like a second grade European team.
Though Barca fans can say that two goals were dubious, there is no hiding the fact that they were butchered by Bayern’s class and speed. Even in Nou Camp, Bayern walked out again as the deserving winners, winning 3-0 on the night and 7-0 on aggregate – a scoreline Barca fans would have never imagined.
1) Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dorymund 2-1 (Final)
The two German teams put on a scintillating display at Wembley Stadium. The world was looking at a contest of Bayern’s experience and disciplined approach to Dortmund’s youth and exuberance. It was the underdogs who called the shots at the beginning. Manuel Neuer was brought into action, denying Lewandowski, Reus and Sven Bender to keep Bayern in the match. The Bavarians were not short in their offensive prowess. Borussia’s goalie Weidenfeller tipped away Mario Mandzukic’s header and then came off his line to deny Robben. Both the goalkeepers kept their teams’ clean sheet intact at half time.
In the second half, Bayern drew the first blood. In the 60th minute, Robben lured Weidenfeller to the far post and fed Mandzukic to tap it into an empty net. But eight minutes later, Dortmund were back on levelled terms, courtesy a penalty, as Dante fouled Reus inside the box. Ilkay Gundogan coolly placed the ball in the net to bring the match alive. Just when everyone had thought that the match was going to extra time, Robben scored the winner in 89th minute to take home the coveted trophy.
It was redemption of sorts for Robben as he was a culprit in last year’s loss to Chelsea – missing in the penalty shootout. But this time lady luck smiled on this diminutive Dutchman. A fitting finale to 2012-13 Champions League.Published 27 May 2013, 15:43 IST