Kicks of the Week: Real Madrid, Liverpool advance to UEFA Champions League Final

David Moore

Sports Blogger

@rundavidmoore

 

Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich

Prakash/Flickr

Real Madrid clinched its third straight Champions League Final appearance with a draw at 2 (4-3 aggregate) against Bayern Munich on Tuesday night at the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, Spain.

Joshua Kimmich, Bayern Munich’s right back, set the tone of the soccer game early with a goal in the third minute to bring the aggregate to 2-2.

Real Madrid was unfazed and replied minutes later. Karim Benzema headed home the equalizer in the 11th minute after a beautiful 28 pass sequence.

The rest of the first half remained tight with both sides creating chances to score.

The big moment of the game came only 20 seconds into the second half when Munich goalkeeper Sven Ulreich had the howler to end all howlers. Ulreich made a complete mess of Corentin Tolisso’s pass back and failed to clear the ball. The pass slipped under Ulreich’s flailing left arm, and Karim Benzema was gifted an open goal to give Real Madrid a 2-1 lead.

James Rodriguez netted in a goal against his former club in the 63rd minute to bring Bayern Munich level on the night with Real Madrid at 2. Real Madrid still led 4-3 on aggregate.

The remaining half hour featured Munich desperately trying to find a way past Madrid keeper Keylor Navas.

Navas, a world-class Costa Rican goalkeeper, had other ideas, producing save after to save to keep Real Madrid in the lead.

The Santiago Bernabeu erupted as the final whistle blew to confirm a third straight Champions League Final for Los Blancos.

Liverpool vs. Roma

Liverpool booked its ticket to Kyiv with a 2-4 loss (7-6 aggregate win) on Wednesday night in Rome, Italy. The Reds clinched their first Champions League Final appearance in 11 years.

After a fantastic 5-2 first leg win in Liverpool, Mo Salah and company simply had to limit Roma from winning by a margin of three goals.

Radja Naingollen, Roma’s Belgian midfielder, made a costly mistake in the ninth minute when his pass in the backfield was intercepted. Sadio Mane punished Naingollen for his mistake and gave Liverpool an early 1-0 lead.

Roma consistently pressured the Liverpool defense and was rewarded for its efforts in the 15th minute. After a Roma cross, Dejan Lovren’s clearance deflected off James Milner’s face and found its way into the Liverpool goal to level the score on the night at 1.

The fast-paced first half continued in the 25th minute, when Liverpool scored its second goal to make it 2-1. Georgino Wijnaldum scored his first Champions League goal off of a corner to extend the aggregate lead to 7-3.

The first half ended with the Reds holding a comfortable four-goal lead.

Roma fought hard to overcome the deficit in the second half. Edin Dzeko got on the score sheet with an early second-half goal in the 52nd minute to bring Roma and Liverpool level on the night at 2.

Roma was unable to recreate the magic seen in the quarterfinal versus Barcelona. The chances were there for Roma, the Italian side, as it did have multiple penalty shots in the second half. The clearest occurred when Trent Alexander Arnold, Liverpool’s defender, handled the ball, preventing a Roma goal. Although the use of the hand wasn’t intentional, the penalty still should’ve been called.

Naingollen made up for his first-half error with a brilliant strike in off the post in the 86th minute to bring Roma within two goals.

Time proved to be the biggest enemy for Roma. The Serie A side was finally given a penalty in the 93rd minute after a clear handball. Naingollen converted to bring the aggregate to 7-6.

With only four minutes of stoppage time, seconds remained in the game after Naingollen’s penalty. Referee Damir Skomina blew his whistle moments later to confirm Liverpool’s spot in the Champions League Final.

The Final between Liverpool and Real Madrid will take place May 26 in Kyiv, Ukraine.

ozone@ocolly.com

 

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