By JOHN BOSCHINI
Two days of breathtaking UEFA Champions League semifinal play are complete, and with the dust settled, neither of the two Spanish favorites will be playing for Europe's greatest prize.
Bayern Munich defeated Real Madrid on penalty kicks and will play for the UEFA Champions League trophy in their home stadium after their semifinal tie ended in a 3-3 aggregate draw. Awful misses by both teams finished with Bastian Schweinsteiger scoring the clinching penalty to give Munich a 3-1 shootout win.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace within the first 15 minutes, but he'll be remembered most for missing Madrid's opening kick in the penalty shootout. Arjen Robben's penalty kick drew Munich level on aggregate and away goals during regulation, and neither team was able to capitalize on a multitude of chances throughout the rest of the game. Both Iker Casillas and Manuel Neuer played magnificently, with each making several key saves including two apiece in the penalty round.
Bayern Munich got revenge against Jose Mourinho after losing to his Inter Milan side in the 2010 Champions League final, and they move on to face Chelsea — which stunned Barcelona on Tuesday — on May 19 at Allianz Arena, where neither team will be at full strength as both will miss multiple players due to suspension.
Here is a look back at today's thrilling Champions League battle:
The action started early in the first half as Real Madrid took the lead before the six-minute mark. David Alaba was whistled for a handball inside the box and Ronaldo stepped up and sent Neuer the wrong way. Bayern Munich should have been level inside two minutes when Alaba's cross found Robben but the Dutch winger put his shot from inside eight yards over the crossbar.
Things went from bad to worse for Bayern when a defensive lapse allowed Ronaldo to find space between their two central defenders. Ozil found Ronaldo, and he slotted a neat finish past Neuer to put Madrid in the driver's seat. Despite being down two goals on the day, Bayern continued to surge forward and ask serious questions of Madrid's defense.
Pepe brought down Mario Gomez inside the box leading to Robben's 27th-minute penalty kick. Casillas got a hand to Robben's penalty but only succeeded in deflecting it inside the post to get Bayern on the board. Minutes later, Madrid had a chance to retake the aggregate lead, but Karim Benzema's curling shot whistled inches wide of the far post.
It was then Bayern's turn to threaten as Gomez's shot from long range was saved by Casillas, and Xabi Alonso dove in dangerously but prevented Franck Ribery from poking home the rebound and the half ended 2-1 in Madrid's favor.
The second half opened with the same frenetic pace from the first half but didn't produce as many clear-cut chances. Benzima forced a decent save from Neuer from 15 yards out but it was a difficult angle for the striker. Robben cut past two defenders and dinked the ball past Pepe to put himself through on goal, but Casillas came out of his goal to smother it.
Five minutes from time, Gomez wasted a golden opportunity to put Munich into the final. Robben broke down the left flank and found Ribery on the left corner of the penalty area. Ribery crossed to a wide-open Gomez, who instead of sweeping the ball in first time, was closed down and the rebound bounced harmlessly to Casillas.
The frenetic pace in the opening 90 minutes certainly had an effect to the slow start of extra time. Neither team was able to carve out any real chances until the second half of extra time. Kaka found himself on the edge of the 6-yard box but was unable to pick out Sami Khedira on the far post and the game went to penalties.
Madrid missed their first two penalties, as both Ronaldo and Kaka's low, similar shots were saved by Neuer while Alaba and Gomez converted to give Bayern a 2-0 lead. However, Casillas stoned Toni Kroos and Phillip Lahm to give Madrid a lifeline, and Xabi Alonso scored Madrid's first penalty to get the hosts on the board.
Sergio Ramos could have brought the scores level but he skied his spot kick, leaving Schweinsteiger to finish off a stunned Madrid side and send Munich to the final.
What did you think of today's game? Stunned at the result? Who do you think will win the UCL final?
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