Bayern Munich battle to advance against spirited Benfica 3-2

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Lisbon, April 14 (IANS) Bayern Munich and Benfica battled to a 2-2 draw in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final, giving the German side a 3-2 win on aggregate to earn a ticket to the last four stage.

Already down 0-1 after the first leg in Germany, underdogs Benfica had to play Wednesday’s match without top scorer Jonas — serving a suspension — and the injured Gaitan and Mitroglou, reports Efe.

While the visitors emphasised ball control, the hosts, egged on by the 60,000-plus in Estadio da Luz here, played a sound game defensively.

The first chance went to Bayern, with Thomas Muller’s shot in the 18th minute rolling just wide of the right post. Arturo Vidal, the hero of the first leg, fell short minutes later with a weak header.

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In the 26th minute, Eliseu charged down the left side and threaded a precise pass to Raul Jimenez, who headed the ball into an almost unguarded net after Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer miscalculated and came off his line.

The crowd burst into delirium and the Benfica players looked startled to have pulled even with the mighty Bayern so early in the contest.

Benfica almost took the advantage at the half-hour mark, when the negligence of Bayern defenders left Jimenez in position to score again, but Neuer easily handled the shot.

In the 37th minute, however, an outstanding stop by Ederson left the ball on the edge of the area for Vidal to hammer it home before the Benfica keeper could get back on his feet.

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The Bayern strike stunned the hosts, who began to lose balls and would have given up another goal before the break if Vidal hadn’t squandered a chance.

Bayern started the second half aggressively and the ambition paid off in the 52nd minute with a goal by Muller off a corner, bringing the score to 2-1 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate.

The German squad failed to convert on several subsequent opportunities and let Benfica back into the contest in the 76th minute, when substitute Talisca scored to bring the home side square (2-2) on the night. But in the overall context it wasn’t enough.

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