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Resurgent Madrid defeats Bayern to advance to the Champions League final

MADRID: Real Madrid rallied spectacularly against Bayern Munich on Wednesday to advance to the Champions League final. Joselu scored twice in the final seconds to give Real Madrid a 2-1 victory and a 4-3 aggregate advantage.

Second-half goals from Alphonso Davies and Joselu gave record 14-time winners Real Madrid a thrilling comeback, with Joselu scoring in the 88th and 91st minutes. On June 1, the German team Borussia Dortmund will play Spanish champion Real Madrid at Wembley after the latter team was taken by surprise and nicknamed the “black beast.” In celebration of yet another electrifying evening in the Spanish capital, Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti exclaimed, “It’s something magical; there’s no explanation.” Journeyman striker and backup option Joselu, who entered as a late substitute, gave Europe’s comeback kings another unforgettable night by writing his name in Madrid history with his last-gasp brace.

“The coach told us that you have to win games with heart, and that’s how we came back,” Joselu remarked. Although Madrid had the better of the game, it appeared that Davies’ incredible goal had set up a rematch of the all-German London final from 2013. Instead, Joselu condemned Bayern to their first trophy-free season since 2012. Manuel Neuer, the Bayern goalkeeper who had brilliantly kept Madrid at bay up until that moment, made a handling error that led to Joselu’s first goal.

The Bayern defender Matthijs de Ligt said, “(Before that) there were world class saves after world class saves, but that can happen, it’s football.”

Elevated level of exertion

Although the hosts dominated the first half, Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel made three changes from the first leg, benching veteran Thomas Mueller and Leon Goretzka. To prevent Madrid from getting ahead, Neuer made two incredible saves: first, he turned the fierce Vinicius Junior’s shot onto the crossbar, and then he stopped Rodrygo’s rebound.

Before England captain Harry Kane’s initial burst of danger, Davies replaced the injured Serge Gnabry of Bayern, but Andriy Lunin deflected his vicious volley around the post. At the end of an intense and constantly tense first half, Neuer palmed away a free-kick from Vinicius.

Just as tense was the second half, with Davies’ cross deflecting onto Lunin’s goal’s roof. Down Madrid’s left, Vinicius was unplayable, and Rodrygo sent a low cross that was agonizingly wide of the far post. As Madrid increased the pressure, the 38-year-old Neuer produced incredible saves to deny both Brazilian forwards once more before the hour had passed. But Bayern struck when Los Blancos were at their best, just like they did in Munich.

After 68 minutes, Canada international Davies cut inside from the left and fired a shot past Lunin into the far top corner. Nacho appeared to have tied the score for Madrid a few moments later, but a VAR review disqualified the goal because the defender had grabbed Joshua Kimmich’s face prior to firing.

In the closing moments, Tuchel took off Kane, who was still vying for his first career trophy, in an attempt to hang on to the win, but it eluded him as Madrid created more unforgettable memories in Europe.

Referee “error”

After being fired by Bayern Munich in 2017, Ancelotti managed to keep the players in Madrid’s squad motivated and dedicated to the team throughout the season, which paid off at a pivotal point. After mishandling what seemed to be a straightforward Vinicius strike, Neuer—who had been outstanding up until this point—was gratefully bundled in from close range by substitute Joselu. The goalie bemoaned, “We had one foot in London and we saw ourselves going through to the final.” As Bayern faltered, Madrid scored a decisive victory once more. Once again, it was Joselu—the striker on loan from Espanyol, a team in the second division—who turned the ball home after Antonio Rudiger had cut it back to him.

After a review, officials overturned the offside ruling, giving Madrid the opportunity to try for their 15th Champions League trophy after nearly 15 minutes of stoppage time. Jude Bellingham, a midfielder for Real Madrid, said, “There have been many occasions when we have looked dead and buried, but we have that mentality of never say die.- AFP

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