Bayern Beats Real to Move Closer to Home Champions League Final

Mario Gomez scored in the 90th minute to give Bayern Munich the advantage over Real Madrid as the German club chases a place in the Champions League soccer final in its home stadium.

Bayern won 2-1 last night at Munich’s Allianz Arena, which will stage the May 19 championship match, in the first game of the semifinal. Franck Ribery also scored for Bayern, while Mesut Ozil got the goal for the Spanish league leader.

“We delivered the things I asked of my team,” Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, who led Real to the 1998 Champions League title, said on UEFA’s website. “We showed passion, desire and were hungry for success, which is exactly what you need in the semifinals.”

Real, which has won Europe’s top club competition a record nine times, hosts the return match on April 25. The winner over the two games will play defending champion Barcelona or Chelsea, who begin their semifinal tonight in London.

“I’m optimistic we can return here to play in the final,” Real manager Jose Mourinho said on UEFA’s website. “It’s not like we have to make a historical comeback.”

Gomez’s goal handed Real its first loss in 11 games in this season’s Champions League. It also continued four-time champion Bayern’s home domination of Madrid in the competition, with nine wins and one tie in 10 games. At Real’s Bernabeu stadium, Bayern has won twice and drawn once in nine European Cup games.

‘Have to Take Chances’

“Real are capable of scoring lots of goals and it’s a pity we conceded,” Ribery said on UEFA’s website. “We’ll have some chances in the return leg and we have to make the most of them.”

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer tipped an early chance by Real’s Karim Benzema over the crossbar for a corner kick.

Ribery, who had a claim for a penalty kick turned down by referee Howard Webb, gave Bayern the lead in the 17th minute when he pounced on a loose ball after a corner kick and fired a first-time shot past Iker Casillas.

Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo then missed with two efforts and Bayern’s Bastian Schweinsteiger shot wide. Also before halftime, Neuer punched away Benzema’s header and Casillas knocked Gomez’s shot over the bar.

Real tied the game eight minutes after the break. Ronaldo got behind the Bayern defense before being stopped by Bayern keeper Neuer. Madrid regained possession from the rebound and Benzema sent a low ball across goal to Ronaldo, who cut it back for Ozil to tap past Neuer.

Three chances fell to Gomez before he scored. He shot over the bar from close range in the 71st minute after Sergio Ramos failed to deal with a free kick and missed with two headers.

His goal was his 12th goal in the Champions League, two less than leader Lionel Messi of Barcelona, and took his tally for the season to 40.

“The winning goal is what Mario Gomez is all about,” Heynckes added. “He needs crosses, he anticipates them very well and he was just in the right place for that goal.”

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