Bayern Munich 3 Barcelona 2
Bayern Munich; Bentia 7', Lewandowski 59', Muller 74'
Barcelona: Neymar 15', 29'
Man of the match: Robert Lewandowski
Pep Guardiola is unaccustomed to wins like this, one that was both meaningless and meaningful, a Pyrrhic victory in some respects, a show of pride, determination and indefatigability in another.
In the context of the Uefa Champions League, it counted for naught.
Barcelona progressed, as they were always going to after taking a 3-0 first-leg lead. Yet after a chastening return to the Nou Camp and with considerable questions about his future, Guardiola should take solace from Bayern Munich's response.
Far from capitulating, they came from behind to win the game. A run of four successive defeats was halted. An endorsement of the manager supplied.
But, over 180 minutes, Barcelona just had too much firepower. They often do. Neymar’s double means that between them, he, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez have scored 114 goals this season.
So Barcelona are Champions League finalists for the first time since Guardiola’s team conquered Europe in 2011. That outfit ranked among the finest of all time. The current collective have the potential to challenge them for that unofficial title, yet, like Bayern, they showed defensive frailties.
Guardiola’s team had an eight-minute spell when they were ahead on the night and could imagine a repeat of the remarkable, quarter-final comeback against Porto. Instead, Barcelona showed they could counter-punch.
While Mehdi Benatia headed in Xabi Alonso’s corner to score the first goal Barcelona had conceded in 645 minutes, it merely served as the prelude to two goals that involved each of Luis Enrique’s front three, and in the same order.
For the equaliser, Messi provided the defence-splitting pass for an unselfish Suarez, who centred so Neymar could score for a seventh consecutive game.
Then the diminutive Messi won a flick on, Suarez sprinted clear and picked out the prolific Brazilian. Tie over.
Familiar failings were undermining Bayern. They survived one early warning about Barcelona’s capacity to spring the offside trap, when Manuel Neuer saved from Ivan Rakitic.
Barcelona were more ruthless when they next broke clear, Bayern’s defending dreadful; at the highest level, they seem to have a soft underbelly.
They also possess a progressive ethos, while their deficit meant they had a particular need to go forward. It made for terrific entertainment with Bayern frustrated by a German time and again as Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved from Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski and Bastian Schweinsteiger. A reaction stop from the Pole was outstanding.
Lewandowski then exerted a modicum of revenge with a soft-shoe shuffle and a fine finish to beat the stationary Ter Stegen.
Then Muller, displaying his capacity to find space, gave Bayern the advantage on the night. They swarmed forward, looking to make the improbable happen.
It did not. Barcelona endured some nervy moments, but they will be in Berlin on June 6.
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