Bayern Munich handed Barcelona its worst European soccer defeat in 16 years to move to the brink of its third Champions League final appearance in four seasons.
Thomas Mueller scored two goals last night, and Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben added one each, to lift Bayern to a 4-0 home win in the semifinal opener between four-time winners of Europe’s elite club competition.
“It’s amazing, I can hardly believe it,” Robben said in a televised interview. “We can really be proud of what we accomplished, but we still have the return leg to play and we need to be careful.”
Barcelona, which had been the bookmakers’ favorite to win its fourth European Cup title in the past eight seasons, will host the return match in the two-game series May 1. The winner advances to the May 25 final at Wembley Stadium in London against Real Madrid or Borussia Dortmund, who begin their semifinal tonight in Germany.
Barcelona managed only two shots on target even with 63 percent of the possession last night. The defeat matched its biggest in the competition after 4-0 losses to AC Milan in the 1994 final and against Dynamo Kiev three years later.
No team has overturned a four-goal deficit from the first game in the Champions League. Last month, Barcelona beat AC Milan 4-0 at home in the round of 16 to advance following a 2-0 loss in Italy.
“We know that the situation is difficult, but as Barcelona we have to compete in the second leg and try to win,” Barca’s assistant coach Jordi Roura said on the website of tournament organizer UEFA. “We will give it our all.”
Bayern is seeking an unprecedented sweep of three major trophies this season. The Bavarian club already secured its 23rd German league championship and has advanced to the final of the domestic cup competition. No team from Germany has won its league and cup and the Champions League in the same season.
“We have been displaying extraordinary football for the entire season,” Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said on UEFA’s website. “Falling short of success in the past two years has only made them more hungry to win this year.”
Robben had a chance in the opening two minutes as he exchanged passes with Javi Martinez before sending a low shot that Victor Valdes stopped with his legs. Bayern then had a claim for a penalty kick turned down by referee Viktor Kassai when Philipp Lahm’s shot hit the arm of defender Gerard Pique.
The German champion took the lead in the 25th minute as Robben lofted a ball into the area that Dante headed back across goal and Mueller nodded in at the near post.
Dante slid in front of his own goal to knock away Pedro Rodriguez’s pass for Lionel Messi. Bayern had another appeal for a penalty kick in the 32nd minute as Dante’s flicked header from Robben’s corner kick hit Alexis Sanchez’s arm.
Bayern doubled its lead four minutes into the second half as Mueller headed Robben’s corner kick to the middle of goal, where an unmarked Gomez knocked the ball in. Barcelona’s first shot on target came in the 69th minute as Manuel Neuer stopped Marc Bartra’s effort after a corner kick.
Robben made it 3-0 in the 73rd minute when he shot past Valdes from the right side. Barcelona players complained to the referee for a foul as Mueller blocked off Jordi Alba, allowing Robben to shoot.
Mueller had a clear chance at goal after getting by two defenders in the 80th minute only to be stopped by Valdes. The German international midfielder wasn’t denied two minutes later, redirecting David Alaba’s cross to close the scoring.
“I had great ambitions for this game, but I wouldn’t have thought that things would turn out the way they did,” Mueller told UEFA’s website. “I was able to play my part.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Bensch in London at email@example.com.