Bayern through after stunning comeback

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By BBC

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Bayern Munich fought back from two goals down to beat Juventus in extra time, dramatically progressing to the Champions League quarter-finals.

With the tie poised at 2-2 after the first leg, Paul Pogba and Juan Cuadrado scored to put Juve in command.

Robert Lewandowski’s header gave Bayern hope but Juve looked to have seen them off until Thomas Muller’s 90th-minute goal forced the match into extra time.

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And a buoyed Bayern finished in style through Thiago and Kingsley Coman.

The hosts – who had dominated possession to little effect in normal time – played with more urgency after Muller’s lifeline, with the introduction of substitutes Coman and Thiago playing a key part in the turnaround.

Juventus will not only have to come to terms with falling so close to the finishing line, but the pill will be even more bitter knowing that the player who inflicted the killer blow was Coman, a talented teenager on long-term loan at Bayern from the Bianconeri.

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The 19-year-old Frenchman made three assists in Bayern’s 5-0 thumping of Werder Bremen in the league at the weekend and was once again influential when he replaced the ineffective Xabi Alonso after an hour.

Juventus have won all but one of their past 19 Serie A games and not conceded in the league for nearly two months, but despite such impressive form Massimiliano Allegri maintained his team would have to enjoy the “perfect game” to beat opponents who had won their past nine European home games by an aggregate score of 36-4.

For the majority of the match they met Allegri’s demands. They pressed Bayern high up the pitch, forcing the home defence into rushed, uncharacteristic errors.

Even in the face of wave after wave of red-shirted attacks in the final 15 minutes, the Bianconeri’s defence seemed to have enough knowhow to carry the team home, restricting the hosts to hopeful shots.

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But Muller struck after a fine Coman cross to give an enthralling match an added twist. Coman played a part in Bayern’s opener, too – his dash to the byline prevented the ball from going out and he then fed Douglas Costa, whose drifted cross towards the far post found the clinical Lewandowski.

Bayern rattled, Juve in control

Last year’s runners-up showed remarkable resistance in coming back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 in the first leg – Bayern boss Pep Guardiola said his respect for the Italians was even greater as a result – and they had clearly learned from the mistakes of Turin.

On a number of occasions Juve were able to bisect Bayern’s defence with one pass. Manuel Neuer, in particular, looked harassed by Juve’s high-tempo style. He gambled and lost early on, rushing off his line and allowing Stephan Lichtsteiner’s shot to ricochet off him into the path of Pogba, who side-footed home into an unmanned net.

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The offside flag then came to the German goalkeeper’s rescue. Alvaro Morata put the ball in the net after a poor clearance from Neuer, and replays would later show that disallowing the goal was the wrong decision.

But the visitors did double their advantage and did so with panache. The impressive Morata sashayed through the middle, beating a host of defenders and unselfishly fed Cuadrado, who jinked inside the box before arrowing the ball in at the near post.

The Italians were dominant and on course to knock Bayern out in Guardiola’s final season in charge, but then the Catalan made substitutions which changed the course of the match.

 

 

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