Munich (DPA): Resilient Atletico Madrid reached the Champions League final on away goals over Bayern Munich after a 2-1 defeat in Germany on Tuesday for a 2-2 aggregate – denying Pep Guardiola a happy end of his term as Munich coach.
It was Bayern’s third straight semi-final defeat against a Spanish side – following exits against Real Madrid and Barcelona – under Guardiola and means that his three-year reign will end in summer without lifting the coveted trophy he won twice with Barcelona.
Goalkeeper Jan Oblak crucially saved a first-half penalty from Thomas Mueller shortly after Xabi Alonso had put Bayern ahead. Atletico’s Fernando Torres then also missed from the spot but got away with it after Antoine Griezmann got a vital away goal for them and Robert Lewandowski scored Munich’s second.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico went through, having won the first game in Spain 1-0, and even though they were comprehensively outplayed by Bayern for most of the return leg.
They will now hope to come third time lucky in the Milan final on May 28, after losing the 1974 decider to Bayern and the 2014 finale against crosstown rivals Real Madrid.
Atletico could face Real again as they host Guardiola’s next club Manchester City in the other semi-final Wednesday after a 0-0 draw last week in England.
“We want to win. We have a chance to write the history that nobody at Atletico has. It doesn’t matter who the opponent in the final is. We are ready to fight with everyone,” Torres told BT Sports.
Looking at Tuesday’s match, Griezmann told Sky TV: “We prepared to suffer and we did suffer. But we made it in the end.”
Guardiola said “maybe” when asked whether his mission in Munich was incomplete.
But he insisted: “I fought. I did my best. I am sorry. I gave my life for this team. But numbers are numbers and we didn’t reach a Champions League final.”
Guardiola fielded Germany defender Jerome Boateng in his European return from a long injury break, and Mueller and Franck Ribery started as well up front after only coming on late last week in Madrid.
They were however up against Atletico key defender Diego Godin who had missed the first game injured and now returned into a team that had not conceded a goal in the last six official games and not lost by more than one goal in 71 matches overall since February 2015.
Bayern started much better than into the first leg and soon besieged Atletico’s penalty area, with Lewandowski coming close in the 11th and 20th before they broke the deadlock on the half-hour mark.
Augusto fouled David Alaba and Alonso’s ensuing free-kick from just outside the area took a slight deflection as it went between the legs of Jose Maria Gimenez for 1-0.
Another foul three minutes later, the unfortunate Gimenez pulling down Javi Martinez, gave Bayern a glorious opportunity to go 2-0 up for the aggregate lead but Oklak dove to his right to deny Mueller’s not well placed penalty kick.
It was Mueller’s third missed penalty from 10 attempts in the champions League, and he admitted later “sometimes football can be really cruel.”
To make matters worse Atletico got what they wanted in the 53rd when Torres fed Griezmann with a throughball to slot home alone in front of Manuel Neuer for a valuable away goal, with Boateng not looking good.
Guardiola’s men needed two goals to survive, as in the last 16 against Juventus.
Lewandowski nodded home for 2-1 from point-blank range after Vidal had headed Alaba’s cross on to the Pole; Neuer saved Torres’ penalty which was awarded although it appeared that Martinez had brought him down outside the area; but Bayern then failed to get the third goal they needed.
“We are disappointed. We gifted them a goal. It is a shame we got this goal. We could have made it but that is football. We were the better team,” Lewandowski said.
Their 12th home victory in a row ties Manchester United’s record acheived 2006-2008 but Bayern went out again in the last four as Guardiola will have to settle for likely three Bundesliga titles and possibly two German cups at the end of his reign.
“I am very sad for the players. They played a fantastic Champions League,” Guardiola said.