Madrid - Real Madrid have moved a step closer to a first Champions League final appearance in 12 years when a Karim Benzema strike gave the record nine-times winners a 1-0 win at home to holders Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
Bayern dominated possession in the semi-final, first
leg at the Bernabeu without posing much of a threat to the home goal and
Benzema's 19th-minute effort means Real will have the advantage going
into next week's return in Munich.
Despite the victory, Real may
live to regret not converting a couple of clear chances in the first
half when Champions League top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, back after
injury, and Angel Di Maria both produced wasteful efforts.
Bayern almost equalised late on but Mario Goetze was denied by a brilliant Iker Casillas save.
was a losing return to Spain for Bayern coach Pep Guardiola, who mostly
got the better of Real in four trophy-laden seasons in charge of their
arch rivals Barcelona between 2008 and 2012.
Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti in his first season, Real have high hopes
they can finally claim the elusive 10th European crown they have been
chasing since their last triumph in 2002.
There was an electric
atmosphere at their giant Bernabeu arena before kickoff and the home
fans unfurled a huge banner proclaiming their status as "Kings of
However, it was the current champions and five-times
winners who bossed the early stages with the Real players clearly under
instructions to sit back and try and hit Bayern on the break.
opening goal came from exactly that scenario. Toni Kroos had a shot
blocked in the Real penalty area and the home side picked up possession
and poured forward.
Ronaldo played Fabio Coentrao in on the left
and his low cross evaded the Bayern defence and found Benzema waiting at
the far post to tap into an empty net.
were lifted by the goal and while Bayern were still enjoying long
periods of fruitless possession the home side had two more clear chances
on the breakaway.
Ronaldo sliced a shot high and wide when well
placed in the 26th minute and Di Maria found space in the area four
minutes before the break but blasted his effort over the bar.
were first to threaten in the second period thanks to an error in the
Bayern defence and Ronaldo, back after knee and thigh muscle injuries,
raced clear on the right and forced a fine diving save from Manuel Neuer
with a low shot.
The Portugal captain has a record-equalling 14
goals in the Champions League this season and was clearly hungry to set a
new best and Neuer again had to be alert when Ronaldo cracked a low
shot towards the corner in the 68th.
Bayern huffed and puffed,
with Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery probing down wither flank, but there
was no way through the massed ranks of Real defenders.
Bundesliga champions enjoyed a good late spell and Goetze might have
done better when left unmarked 10 metres out but Casillas was equal to
In added time, Bayern claimed a penalty after Xabi
Alonso dispossessed substitute Thomas Mueller when he was about to shoot
but referee Howard Webb waved away their furious protests.