Soccer

Madrid beats Bayern to take control of semifinal

AP, AFP-JIJI

Real Madrid substitute Marco Asensio scored a second-half winner on Wednesday to end Bayern Munich’s unbeaten record at home this season and give his side a 2-1 win in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal.

Joshua Kimmich had put the home side in front, but Marcelo equalized before the interval against the run of play. Asensio then came on after the break and Lukas Vazquez set up the 22-year-old to claim a second away goal for Madrid 12 minutes into the second half.

The result puts the two-time defending champions in a favorable position before the second leg in Madrid next Tuesday, though Zinedine Zidane’s side will be wary after conceding three goals at home to Juventus in the previous round.

“We’ve taken the first step,” said Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, back to marshal his side’s defense after serving a suspension against Juventus.

Bayern had to substitute the injured Arjen Robben and Jerome Boateng in the first half, but the side had plenty of chances to score more goals with Franck Ribery, Robert Lewandowski and Mueller all missing good opportunities.

“We didn’t have as many big chances against Hannover last week. Real won 2-1 away, so they have the edge, but we’ll throw everything into it,” Kimmich said of the second leg.

Cristiano Ronaldo was held scoreless for the first time in the competition this season. The Portuguese star had an effort ruled out in the second half for using his arm to control the ball.

Bayern, which is chasing a treble in Jupp Heynckes’ last season in charge, was hoping to make up for last year’s quarterfinal exit to Madrid, and for the Spanish side’s 5-0 aggregate win at the same stage in 2014.

Roy Makaay scored the fastest Champions League goal after 10 seconds for Bayern against Madrid in 2007, and Mueller would have rivaled it had he been able to make more of a chance created by Lewandowski.

“There was a lot more possible,” Mueller said. “That hurts, but also shows that there’s something in the return game. We had to get a much better result. We were too naive.”

Rafinha had the first shot on goal in the 19th minute after a cautious start from the visitors, who started with both Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema on the bench.

Madrid started to settle midway through the half before Kimmich struck. James Rodriguez played the right-back through as Bayern created a three-on-two. Perhaps expecting a cross, Madrid ‘keeper Keylor Navas was surprised when Kimmich let fly to score inside the far corner.

Buoyed by the goal, Bayern’s players suddenly found spaces but Ribery wasted a good opportunity to double the lead.

Instead, Marcelo leveled the score shortly before the break. Dani Carvajal headed the ball back into the danger zone, Ronaldo let the ball bounce, and Marcelo let fly with a low shot inside the bottom corner.

Bayern missed more chances before the interval, when Asensio came on for Isco to change the course of the game. After Bayern turned the ball over in midfield, Vazquez and Asensio played a one-two before the substitute coolly dispatched the ball past Sven Ulreich.

Navas pulled off a brilliant save to deny Ribery, who was again blocked by the ‘keeper five minutes later. Mueller missed an even better chance minutes after that.

Ronaldo thought he’d scored with around 20 minutes remaining, but the goal was ruled out and his run finally stopped.

“The tie is far from over,” Zidane said. “It’s more than possible that Bayern could win in the Bernabeu.”

Injury blow for England

England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will miss the World Cup after he suffered a knee ligament injury in Liverpool’s Champions League semifinal clash with Roma, the club said on Wednesday.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was carried off on a stretcher midway through the first half of the 5-2 first-leg victory over Roma on Tuesday.

He underwent a scan on Wednesday that revealed ligament damage, although the club is not putting an exact time frame on how long he is likely to be out for.

“The extent of the injury means Oxlade-Chamberlain is set to miss the remainder of the campaign for Liverpool, as well as the World Cup finals in Russia with England,” the club said in a statement on their website.

“The 24-year-old was assessed by the club’s medical team at Melwood on Wednesday morning and no specific time scale is being placed upon his return to action at this stage.

“However, Oxlade-Chamberlain will now begin a rehabilitation program to enable him to reach full fitness again as soon as possible, returning to action next season.”

Oxlade-Chamberlain has seen a stuttering career revitalized under Jurgen Klopp since moving to Liverpool last summer and his injury is a major blow to England boss Gareth Southgate.

The former Arsenal man scored a stunning goal in Liverpool’s 3-0 quarterfinal, first-leg Champions League win over Manchester City and was widely expected to be included in the England squad for the World Cup, which starts in Russia on June 15.

Klopp’s men looked certain for the Champions League final in Kiev on May 26 when doubles from the outstanding Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino either side of Sadio Mane’s strike saw the hosts race into a 5-0 lead.

However, late goals from Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti alied to Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury soured Klopp’s mood.