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FOOTBALL

Bayern reach Champions League final on penalties

Strapping blond goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was Bayern Munich’s hero on Wednesday night, stopping Real Madrid in a penalty shoot-out after a thrilling Champions League semi-final ended even at 3-3.

Bayern reach Champions League final on penalties
Photo: DPA

Neuer saved penalties by two of the world’s most expensive players – Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaká – to beat the Spanish giants 3-1 on penalties in the Bernabéu stadium. This books the Bavarians a place in the final on May 19 – where they will enjoy home advantage over English veterans Chelsea.

Madrid’s goalie Iker Casillas matched the German’s feat, saving tame efforts by Philipp Lahm and Toni Kroos, but a row-Z effort by Spanish defender Sergio Ramos which sailed over the goal, and a confident finish by Bastian Schweinsteiger, sealed the deal for the Bavarians.

See the best pictures from a mad night in Madrid and Munich!

Crowds erupted onto the streets of Munich as Schweini’s penalty rattled into the back of the net at around 11:20pm. Police were forced to block off central thoroughfare Leopoldstrasse to traffic, as thousands of football fans celebrated long into the night.

It is the first time in the history of the Champions League that one of the finalists will be playing in their home stadium. Although this makes Bayern favourites in Munich’s Allianz Arena, they will have three key players missing through suspension – David Alaba, Luiz Gustavo, and Holger Badstuber.

Like Barcelona the night before, Real Madrid comprehensively overturned a first-leg deficit early in the second leg.

Having lost 2-1 in Munich thanks to a dramatic 90th minute winner by Mario Gomez, Madrid came out firing on all cylinders in the opening exchanges, out-passing Munich in midfield and pushing them back into their own half.

Then in the fifth minute, Bayern’s Austrian left-back David Alaba gave away an unlucky penalty, slipping and blocking a shot with his arm. In contrast to his later effort in the penalty shoot-out, Ronaldo tucked the spot-kick away confidently to give Madrid the early initiative.

Eight minutes later, the Bayern defence inexplicably left the Portuguese striker alone in front of goal, and Ronaldo scored his tenth goal of the campaign with a neat low shot past Neuer. At that point, with Bayern’s defence flailing and Real rampant after barely 15 minutes, few would have bet on the Bavarians to recover.

But, like Real, Bayern’s strength is the speed and efficiency of their passing going forward. Alaba, one of Bayern’s key performers on the night, had already produced an exhilarating run down the left in the eighth minute, only for Arjen Robben to waste his excellent cross, chipping the ball over the bar from close range when it looked easier to score.

But on 26 minutes, Toni Kroos, barrelling down the inside right channel, pulled a sweet, indefensible pass into the path of Gomez, who was brought down in the area by scrambling defender Pepe. It was Robben who struck the penalty into the bottom left, just about putting enough on the ball to get past Casillas’ outstretched hand.

That strike left the tie balanced on 3-3, with both sides boasting an away goal. Even though both teams looked defensively frail in that frenetic opening half-hour, the final 90 minutes of the game passed goalless, leaving the tie to be decided in the most dramatic way possible.

The Local/bk

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MUNICH

Four injured as WWII bomb explodes near Munich train station

Four people were injured, one of them seriously, when a World War II bomb exploded at a building site near Munich's main train station on Wednesday, emergency services said.

Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich.
Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Privat

Construction workers had been drilling into the ground when the bomb exploded, a spokesman for the fire department said in a statement.

The blast was heard several kilometres away and scattered debris hundreds of metres, according to local media reports.

Images showed a plume of smoke rising directly next to the train tracks.

Bavaria interior minister Joachim Herrmann told Bild that the whole area was being searched.

Deutsche Bahn suspended its services on the affected lines in the afternoon.

Although trains started up again from 3pm, the rail operator said there would still be delays and cancellations to long-distance and local travel in the Munich area until evening. 

According to the fire service, the explosion happened near a bridge that must be passed by all trains travelling to or from the station.

The exact cause of the explosion is unclear, police said. So far, there are no indications of a criminal act.

WWII bombs are common in Germany

Some 75 years after the war, Germany remains littered with unexploded ordnance, often uncovered during construction work.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about WWII bomb disposals in Germany

However, most bombs are defused by experts before they explode.

Last year, seven World War II bombs were found on the future location of Tesla’s first European factory, just outside Berlin.

Sizeable bombs were also defused in Cologne and Dortmund last year.

In 2017, the discovery of a 1.4-tonne bomb in Frankfurt prompted the evacuation of 65,000 people — the largest such operation since the end of the war in Europe in 1945.

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