UEFA Champions League: Bayern Munich 4 Barcelona 0
By Football News
Bayern Munich grabbed a strong hold of their UEFA Champions League semi-final with Barcelona thanks a 4-0 first-leg victory at the Allianz Arena.
The German side took the lead as Thomas Muller pounced upon some ponderous Barca defending to nod home, while Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben's solo effort put the gloss on the result before Muller's second made it a rout.
Lionel Messi was declared fit for the game and named in the Barcelona starting line-up alongside 22-year-old defender Marc Bartra. For the hosts, Jupp Heynckes opted to field Gomez in place of the suspended Mario Mandzukic.
Bayern started the game well and tested Victor Valdes in the opening five minutes with an incisive passing move down the right-hand side. Gomez was found inside the penalty area and played a superb back-heel to Robben but the Dutchman could only shoot straight at the goalkeeper.
In the 16th minute, the newly-crowned German champions saw appeals for a penalty turned down by referee Viktor Kassai. Bayern captain Philipp Lahm broke down the right and fired an effort from the edge of the penalty area that appeared to strike Gerard Pique on the arm, but the Germans' protests were waved away.
Nine minutes later, the home side's pressure paid off as they took advantage of some questionable Barcelona defending to open the scoring. A right-wing cross from Robben found Dante at the back post, he rose above Dani Alves and headed the ball across goal to the unmarked Muller who placed his header past Valdes.
The hosts doubled their lead four minutes after the break as Muller returned the favour to Gomez, however, they had a huge slice of luck as the striker was clearly in an offside position as he scored. A Robben corner from the right was won by Muller at the back post; he rose above Alves and placed his header back across goal where Gomez tapped home from inches out.
Eventually, Barca wrestled control of the game back from their hosts, however, despite dominating possession, Manuel Neuer barely had a save to make. The closest the visitors came was in the 69th minute when a loose ball dropped at the feet of Bartra inside the box but the youngster failed to get any power in his shot and Neuer collected easily.
And they were made to pay for their poor finishing in the 73rd minute as Robben added a glorious third goal to give the hosts a commanding lead in the tie. The Dutchman tricked his way past Jordi Alba on the right-hand side before calmly slotting the ball beyond Valdes from a tight angle.
The Germans took absolute control of the tie with eight minutes to play as Muller grabbed his second of the game after more sloppy defending from the visitors. Bastian Schweinsteiger broke from the half-way line before feeding Franck Ribery on the left, he played a neat pass into David Alaba who crossed for Muller to tap home from close range.