Bayern use huge first half to demolish Porto to reach semifinals
Bayern Munich made light work of a 3-1 first-leg deficit as they battered Porto 6-1 to sail into the last four of the Champions League with a 7-4 margin on aggregate.
It was supposed to be a night that would test Bayern boss Pep Guardiola’s mettle after last week’s disappointing defeat in Portugal, but his charges made a mockery of such predictions with five goals in 26 minutes in the first half.
Thiago Alcantara, Jerome Boateng, Robert Lewandowski (two) and Thomas Muller caused the damage as they mercilessly tore their Primeira Division opponents apart with scintillating passing, breathtaking movement and ruthless finishing.
Porto went into this clash unbeaten in the competition so far and they were given a brief glimmer of hope when Jackson Martinez headed in, but their evening got worse still when Ivan Marcano was sent off late on and Xabi Alonso fired in the resulting free-kick.
The reigning Bundesliga champions, who were even missing key players such as injured duo Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, now march on to their fourth consecutive Champions League semi-final after a fantastic night.
It was clear that Julen Lopetegui, who was a former team-mate of opposite number Guardiola at Barcelona in the 1990s, was happy for his Porto side to sit deep and try to protect their first-leg lead from the off.
But chinks appeared in Porto’s gameplan as early as the 10th minute when Lewandowski hit a post – and half an hour later they found themselves 5-0 down on the night.
Thiago, who scored Bayern’s consolation at the Estadio do Dragao last week, kicked off the rout by nipping in front of his marker at the near post to nod home from Juan Bernat’s superb cross after 14 minutes.
Amid the hostile environment of a raucous Allianz Arena Porto began to fall apart and Bayern levelled the contest on aggregate in the 22nd minute, with Boateng heading in his first goal of the season after Holger Badstuber nodded Thiago’s corner back across goal.
The Germany international’s effort had just enough pace to creep past Fabiano, but questions will have to be asked about the Porto keeper after he seemed slow to react.
The visitors could have no complaints about Bayern’s truly exquisite third, which completed a three-goal 13-minute salvo to totally turn the tie around.
First, Philipp Lahm showed his class with an inch-perfect cross on the volley, before Muller unselfishly flicked the ball onto Lewandowski’s head and the Polish striker made no mistake from close range.
Muller twisted the knife with a somewhat fortuitous, somewhat hilarious, fourth as his low shot from distance was deflected off Bruno Martins Indi and totally caught poor Fabiano off-guard as the ball trickled through his legs when he tried in vain to clear on the floor.
With Porto shell shocked, Lewandowski was hardly feeling charitable as he picked up the ball from Muller around the penalty spot and showed ice-cool composure to work an opening before firing it low past Fabiano with deadly accuracy.
Understandably the pace relented from the hosts after the interval, but they were still in complete control of proceedings before Martinez gave the visitors a glimmer of hope.
The striker, who has been linked with a summer move to the Premier League, caught Bayern’s under-worked backline out to head in Hector Herrera’s cross in the 73rd minute, even though replays showed he was clearly offside.
With that goal reducing the aggregate deficit to back to 6-4, Martinez went close with a shot from distance that had Manuel Neuer flustered before it went wide, but that was as close as Porto got to creating a tense finale.
Things got even worse for them when Marcano picked up a second yellow card for a wild lunge on Thiago with five minutes left and Alonso fired in the free-kick with aplomb to complete the scoring.