#EGISTZ Benzema leads Real Madrid past defending UCL champ Bayern Munich #TEAMJIZZY (SHARE)

MADRID — A goal from Karim
Benzema gave Real Madrid a 1-0
victory over title holder Bayern
Munich on Wednesday and a slender
advantage in their Champions League
semifinal.
Madrid endured plenty of pressure in
the first leg match, but scored from
a 19th-minute counter-attack when
Cristiano Ronaldo found Fabio
Coentrao speeding down left to cross
into the box for Benzema to tap
beyond goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Ronaldo returned from a left leg
injury but missed a number of
scoring opportunities, eventually
giving way to Gareth Bale who
started on the bench after battling
with ‘flu.
Bayern pressed for an equalizer in
the closing stages, forcing Madrid
goalkeeper Iker Casillas to deny
Mario Goetze in the 84th minute
while fellow substitute Thomas
Mueller had no better luck with his
late effort from inside the area.
Nine-time champion Madrid will rue a
number of missed opportunities to
extend its lead going into Tuesday’s
return leg in Germany. Madrid is
bidding to end a three-season
semifinal losing streak and reach the
final for the first time since winning
in 2002.
Atletico Madrid or Chelsea await in
the May 24 final in Lisbon, with the
pair playing to a scoreless draw in
their first-leg match on Tuesday.
Pep Guardiola endured his first loss
at the Bernabeu as coach after
seven previous visits with Barcelona,
and at times the encounter took on
the appearance of a “clasico” with
Madrid looking to capitalize on the
break while the visitors controlled
play.
Madrid’s defense did well to contain
Bayern in its area and then break
quickly, but the Spanish club should
have extended its lead after
Benzema steered the ball home.
Ronaldo, who looked uncomfortable
at times despite passing a late
fitness test, followed up a sharp
header at Neuer with a first-time
shot from Luka Modric’s perfect
pass in the 26th minute — only for
his effort to fly high over the top
with just the Germany ‘keeper to
beat.
Madrid dug in and did well to clear
many of Bayern’s best opportunities.
The German champions found space
between the lines and combined
some swift passing movements, with
Franck Ribery picking out Arjen
Robben inside the area in the 39th.
But Madrid weathered each buildup
before surging forward, with Angel
Di Maria gathering a loose ball at the
right post only to wildly shoot over
Neuer before halftime.
After the break, Neuer had to dive
low to keep out Ronaldo’s angled
shot after a Bayern defensive mix-
up.
Ronaldo forced Neuer into another
low save before giving way to Bale,
who energized Madrid’s attack with
his pace. The Welshman was playing
for the first time since his stunning
winner in Madrid’s 2-1 victory over
Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final.
Guardiola brought on Mueller and
Goetze for the final quarter and
Mueller nearly equalized with a rising
shot in the 81st. A chance then fell
to Goetze in the Madrid area but
Casillas reacted well to stop the
German’s powerful volley.
Bayern had gone 29 matches without
scoring coming into the 20th meeting
between the storied European rivals,
and will still rate its chances of
reaching a third straight final with
the return leg at home.

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