Bayern Munich tear FC Porto apart in dazzling display

Pep Guardiola’s side were 5-0 up at the break at the Allianz Arena

 Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller scores his side’s goal in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final against FC Porto at the Allianz Arena in Munich. Photo: Andreas Gebert/EPA

Bayern Munich’s Thomas Müller scores his side’s goal in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-final against FC Porto at the Allianz Arena in Munich. Photo: Andreas Gebert/EPA

 

Bayern Munich 6 FC Porto 1 (Bayern win 7-4 on agg)

As you were, then, Pep. This was an extraordinary Champions League quarter-final second leg for various reasons. Chiefly, of course, for Bayern Munich’s magisterial, ultimately dismissive passage into the semi-finals as Pep Guardiola’s team turned around a 3-1 first-leg deficit to go to half-time 5-0 up, having reduced Porto to a collection of bewildered ill-fitting parts.

Almost as remarkable, in a perverse kind of way, was Porto’s collapse. They were abject here in losing 6-1, undone by Bayern’s ruthless exposing of weakness on the Porto flanks via classically Guardiola-ish switches of play and a performance of bravura centre-forward craft and strength from Robert Lewandowski.

Beyond that, on a steamy, boisterous, strangely dreamy night at the Allianz Arena, this was perhaps a performance to restore a little of the burnish to the fondly cherished cult of Pep, for whom these have been interesting times. The dismissal of a long-serving celebrity club doctor, combined with a shabby performance in the first leg of this tie, had created, if not doubt, then a tremor of something close.

In the event this was a night to cherish for Bayern’s manager, who could be seen, with his team 5-0 up in the second half, still thrashing about on the touchline, at one stage grabbing Thomas Müller by the shoulder and dragging him off the pitch to impart some more precise piece of instruction. Somewhere in the mix he even ripped his trousers open on the thigh, continuing to point and shout with seams flapping in the wind. It was simply that kind of night.

There was the usual rolling roar inside this steeply banked high-rise oval as the players emerged before kick-off, the words “Never Give Up” brandished in huge letters by the Bayern fans behind one goal. For all that, and almost comically, given what was to come, this was still an unusually anxious Bayern crowd as Porto kicked off. Müller had urged caution in the build-up to this match: fat chance, as it happened.

Deprived of speed and trickery on the wings in the absence of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry and David Alaba, Guardiola’s team still managed to overrun Porto on the flanks with almost embarrassing ease in a first half that began carefully and quickly became a rout.

It was via two touches straight down the middle that the first big chance of the game arrived. Lewandowksi hitting the post on 10 minutes after Müller’s shot had been palmed across goal by Fabiano. As Porto cleared, Julen Lopetegui erupted into a wild capering dance of fury on the touchline, incredulous that his team could be cut open so easily.

Lopetegui might just have had a little flicker of premonition. Porto’s manager was hindered here by the absence of the regular full backs Danilo and Alex Sandro, and it showed at times in the first half as Bayern, like any good Guardiola team, ganged up on a weakness to brilliant effect.

With 13 minutes gone they duly took the lead, opening up Diego Reyes’s right flank with disarming ease. Juan Bernat showed nimble control to skip to the byline. His cross was measured for Thiago Alcântara to skip in front of the cover and head in from five yards. It was a beautifully simple goal, both well-executed and well-planned. Guardiola is said to give three separate pre-match team talks. Presumably “knock it in behind the full backs time” was in each of them.

With 21 minutes gone Bayern squared the tie with another header. It was a terrible goal to concede, albeit by now Porto already looked thoroughly rattled. Philipp Lahm’s corner from the right was headed back across by Holger Badstuber and Jérôme Boateng rose highest to headed past Fabiano.

The Allianz Arena was in a state of perpetual triumphant uproar by now and within five minutes Bayern had pretty much turned the tie around as Lewandowski scored a beautiful third to make it 3-0 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate. Lahm crossed on the run from near the corner flag. Müller’s touch to redirect the path of the ball with his instep was dreamy, gangling perfection and Lewandowski headed home with force past Fabiano’s token dive. It was a wonderful moment of craft, a goal without any particular qualities of pace or trickery, made by three perfect touches and a defence unable to cope with Bayern’s movement.

With half an hour gone, Reyes, who was being overrun repeatedly, was euthanised from the field by Lopetegui, replaced by Ricardo. It was too little too late though as a fourth goal duly arrived on 35 minutes. Müller scored it, looking up and taking a shot from 30 yards that was deflected off Bruno Martins Indi and spun in horrible slow motion past the flailing Fabiano, who still probably should have saved it.

Four goals in the first half was humiliation enough for Porto. Five pushed this into the realms of the surreal. This time Lahm crossed from the right, as Bayern continued their free passage down both sides of Porto’s defence. Lewandowski took the ball under little pressure, switched feet to find space and shot low and hard into the corner.

So Bayern left the field at half-time having turned a 3-1 deficit into a 6-3 crushing. Porto had collapsed, first on the flanks and then through the spine of the team, the defence entirely unable to cope with Lewandowski’s movement, strength and razor-edged finishing.

Porto did pull a goal back with 73 minutes gone, Jackson Martínez heading in from close range from Héctor Herrera’s cross. After which , with the game played out at a cagey half speed, they even had some chances to make Bayern sweat the aggregate score before Iván Marcano received a red card on 87 minutes for hacking down Thiago with a knees-up tackle. Xabi Alonso duly popped the free-kick over the wall and into the net to make it 6-1 and cap a night of strangely effortless red-shirted destruction.

(Guardian service)

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