Harry Kane hails Bayern 'fight' after edging Arsenal to reach Champions League semi-finals

German giants put aside domestic struggles to advance to a last-four showdown with Real Madrid

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Harry Kane praised Bayern Munich's "fight and grind" after the German side advanced to the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday night at the expense of the striker's old rivals Arsenal.

With the quarter-final tie poised at 2-2 following last week's first leg at London's Emirates Stadium, Bayern made home advantage count, with Joshua Kimmich powering in a 63rd-minute header to give the hosts a 1-0 win on the night and a 3-2 aggregate victory.

Germany international Kimmich timed his run into the box perfectly to connect with Raphael Guerreiro's cross and put Bayern, who had earlier hit the woodwork twice from a double chance, in the driving seat.

The Bavarians, enduring their worst domestic season in more than a decade, will next face Real Madrid in the last four while outgoing Bayern manager Thomas Tuchel became the first German coach to reach the semi-finals with three different teams.

"Unbelievable win. It's been a tough season for us and we've had to fight and grind at times," said Kane, who despite Bayern's collective struggles domestically this season has been prolific with 39 goals in all competitions, including seven in the Champions League.

"Today was just that – we knew it was going to be a tough game but also that at home we could make the difference with our fans there.

"As always in these types of games, the first half was a bit cagey. We said at half time to up the tempo and the pressing and be better with the ball. That's what we did."

Kane will next face a showdown against England teammate Jude Bellingham, who like his international captain has starred since moving abroad, first with Borussia Dortmund and now this season at Real Madrid.

"These are the experiences that I think we both moved abroad for. To try and achieve it, to play in these big nights," Kane said, adding that making it to this year's Champions League final, to be held at Wembley, was both his and Bellingham's dream.

"For both of us of course. It'll be in our national stadium so there's an extra motivation to try and go there and achieve it," he said. "But we still have two games ahead of us which are going to be really tough and we have to focus on that."

For Tuchel, continued progression in the Champions League represents the lone highlight of a difficult campaign. Bayern's Bundesliga title defence was destroyed by unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen, who clinched their first league trophy with five games to spare, while their hopes in the German Cup came to shock early end in the second round by third-tier Saarbrucken.

Bayern's domestic struggles led the club and manager to decide to part ways at the end of the season, but Tuchel is proving to be something of a Champions League specialist; the German led Paris Saint-Germain to the 2020 final – losing, incidentally, to Bayern – before guiding Chelsea to the title in 2021.

"The semi-final is a huge step. The last four, that was fun. Great joy and great relief," Tuchel said. "These are special moments. We beat one of the top Premier League clubs. We will have to see what this win does to the club. The season is not yet over. Especially not now."

The defeat was Arsenal's second in three days having seen their Premier League title bid hit by a 2-0 home loss to Aston Villa. However, manager Mikel Arteta has urged his players to use the pain of their Champions League exit to fuel their chase for a first league title in 20 years.

"What we have to play for [in the Premier League] is still beautiful. We have six games to go and we are two points behind [Manchester] City," he said.

"It's a very difficult schedule for everybody. We have to go through the pain tonight, and tomorrow get up and come with the same attitude that we came with here. I can guarantee you by tomorrow we're fully focused on Wolves and everybody is lifted."

Arteta conceded a lack of experience in the latter stages of the competition proved a key factor against Bayern, six-time European champions who are perennial contenders for the trophy.

"We haven't been in this position for 14 years, we haven't played in the Champions League for seven years. There's a reason for that. Today's match will make us better," he said.

"I think we have the capacity and the quality to be in the semi-final. When you look historically, it took other clubs seven, eight or 10 years to do it in the Champions League.

"It's easy to praise the players and talk nice things when we win 10 in a row and one draw [in the Premier League]. The moment is now to be behind them and be next to them."

Updated: April 18, 2024, 4:52 AM