Real Madrid 2-1 Bayern Munich (agg 4-3): Chaotic late Joselu brace sends Real into Champions League final

Joselu netted a late brace to fire Real Madrid into the Champions League final (REUTERS)
Joselu netted a late brace to fire Real Madrid into the Champions League final (REUTERS)

Joselu dragged Real Madrid past Bayern Munich and into Champions League final with a late brace in a remarkable semi-final win.

After 88 minutes, Real were heading out. Alphonso Davies had been set free on the left by Harry Kane, and he cut inside onto his weaker right foot and lashed a brilliant strike into the far corner.

But the job is seemingly never done at the Santiago Bernabeu and there was a strangely inevitable feel to the chaos that followed. A 4-3 aggregate win was another memorable chapter in Real’s rich European history, and they will look to write another one when they face Borussia Dortmund at Wembley on June 1.

Joselu pounced on a Manuel Neuer error to level it up on the night and on aggregate, the Bayern goalkeeper, up to that point sensational, fumbling Vinicius Jr’s tame effort straight into the striker’s path.

Bayern had by now bizarrely taken off Harry Kane, Jamal Musiala and Leroy Sane, evidently banking on getting the job done in 90 minutes, but they did not even make it to extra-time. Just as the board went up for nine added minutes, Antonio Rudiger squared for Joselu to turn home from close range, though the celebrations were briefly paused by an offside flag.

That was overturned by a VAR review, and Bayern’s depleted attacking ranks could not respond as the clock ticked well beyond the 100-minute mark. Matthijs de Ligt had the ball in the net, finishing well on the half-volley, but the whistle had already gone for offside. Replays suggested it was very tight, with Thomas Tuchel furiously confronting the linesman for the premature flag.

For periods of the night, it felt improbable that Bayern would even get as close as they did. Neuer produced a wonderful double save in the first-half, tipping Vinicius’ shot onto the post and then denying Rodrygo from the rebound, and he tipped a cross from Vinicius wide as it curled towards the far corner.

Vinicius deserved to be on the winning side, having produced an electric individual performance. For 20 minutes in the second-half he was unplayable, burning away at will from Joshua Kimmich, who had no answer even when Leroy Sane and Matthijs de Ligt nervously made their way over in support. The Brazilian forced Neuer into another sharp save, while Rodrygo was inches away from an opening goal after being picked out at the end of yet another sparkling Vinicius run.

Bayern, somehow, held firm, and then punched back through Davies on the counter. But Neuer spilled, Joselu struck and struck again, and the Bernabeu crowd, as has become par for the course, witnessed their side come back from the brink. There will be no perfect ending to Tuchel’s time in charge at Bayern, no trophy for Harry Kane in his first season at the club. Real are now firm favourites for a sixth European title in 11 years.