09 May 2024, 10:30
Update : 09 May 2024, 15:13

Joselu inspires Madrid comeback with 'heart' to beat Bayern, reach Champions League final

MADRID, May 9, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Real Madrid produced a spectacular comeback
with "heart" against Bayern Munich to reach the Champions League final on
Wednesday with Joselu striking twice in the dying minutes, earning them a 2-1
win to progress 4-3 on aggregate.

Alphonso Davies smashed the visiting German giants ahead in the second half
but record 14-time winners Madrid produced a sensational comeback with Joselu
netting in the 88th and 91st minutes.

Spanish champions Real Madrid face another German side, Borussia Dortmund, in
the Wembley final on June 1, after they stunned the team they call their
"black beast".

"It's something magical, there's no explanation," said Real Madrid coach
Carlo Ancelotti, revelling in another electric night in the Spanish capital.

Journeyman striker and back-up option Joselu, on as a late substitute, wrote
his name in Madrid's history books with his last-gasp brace, giving Europe's
comeback kings another night to remember.

"(The comeback) was with feeling and with heart, as the coach told us -- you
have to win games with heart," said Joselu.

Madrid had enjoyed the better of the match but it seemed Davies' superb
strike had set up a repeat of the 2013 all-German final in London.

Instead Joselu consigned Bayern to a first trophyless season since 2012, his
first goal coming after a handling error from Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer,
who had superbly kept Madrid at bay until that point.

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

- High-intensity -

Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel made three changes from the first leg, benching
veteran Thomas Mueller and Leon Goretzka but the hosts dominated the opening

Neuer produced a superb double save to stop Madrid nosing in front, tipping
the electric Vinicius Junior's effort on to the post and then saving
Rodrygo's follow-up.

Bayern's Serge Gnabry limped off injured with Davies replacing him before
England captain Harry Kane's first flash of danger, but Andriy Lunin pushed
his vicious volley around the post.

Neuer palmed away a Vinicius free-kick as the teams ended a high-intensity,
relentlessly frantic first half level.

The second period was just as fraught, with Davies' cross deflecting onto the
roof of Lunin's goal.

Vinicius was unplayable down Madrid's left and Rodrygo prodded his low cross
agonisingly wide of the far post.

The 38-year-old Neuer made superb saves to deny both Brazilian forwards again
before the hour mark as Madrid ratcheted up the pressure.

However just as in Munich, when Los Blancos were at their strongest, Bayern

Canada international Davies cut inside from the left and smashed a shot
beyond Lunin into the far top corner after 68 minutes.

Madrid thought they had levelled moments later through Nacho but after a VAR
review the strike was ruled out as the defender had grabbed Joshua Kimmich's
face before shooting.

Tuchel took off Kane, still chasing the first trophy of his career, in the
final stages to try and hold on to victory but it slipped through his fingers
as Madrid produced more indelible European memories.

- Referee 'mistake' -

Ancelotti, sacked by Bayern in 2017, has kept Madrid's squad players engaged
and committed to the cause all season and it paid dividends at a crucial

Neuer, who had been sublime to this point, fumbled what appeared a simple
Vinicius strike and substitute Joselu gratefully bundled home from close

"We had one foot in London, we saw ourselves going through to the final,"
lamented the goalkeeper.

With Bayern reeling Madrid struck again, decisively. It was Joselu once more,
the striker on loan from second-division side Espanyol, turning home after
Antonio Rudiger cut the ball back to him.

The goal was ruled offside but officials overturned the decision after
review, and after nearly 15 minutes of stoppage time, Madrid earned the
chance to go for their 15th Champions League trophy.

"There have been a lot of times we have looked dead and buried, but we have
that mentality of never say die," said Real midfielder Jude Bellingham.

Bayern were left raging at full-time after De Ligt netted but play had been
stopped beforehand for an offside flag against Noussair Mazraoui.

"I don't want to say that it's always the referee's mistake with Real Madrid,
but that made the difference today," grumbled De Ligt, saying play should
have been allowed to continue.

"It's bitter, completely bitter," said Tuchel.

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