The semifinals of the Champions League are set after an exciting duo of matches Wednesday that saw Bayern Munich beat Manchester United 3-1 and Atletico Madrid top Barcelona 1-0.
Manchester United needed to make up an away goal at Bayern to have a chance at advancing, and they got one in the second half. But it seemed to only wake Bayern up, as they exploded for three second-half goals and won 3-1 to advance on aggregate, 4-2.
Meanwhile, in an all-Spanish duel between Atletico and Barcelona, the underdogs held La Liga giants Barcelona scoreless in impressive fashion and won 1-0 in Wednesday's second leg to advance to the semi-finals on aggregate 2-1.
With Wednesday's thrilling duo of matches complete, the semi-finals stage is set for the Champions League. Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich join Real Madrid and Chelsea, which advanced Tuesday.
Champions League semifinalists: Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea. #UCLonFOX— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) April 9, 2014
Let's break down the complete results from Wednesday's matches.
|Atletico Madrid||1-0||Barcelona||Atletico 2-1|
|Bayern Munich||3-1||Manchester United||Bayern 4-2|
Bayern Munich 3-1 Manchester United
It took some time for Bayern Munich to get going. But once they were woken up in the second half, they showcased their elite pedigree and thumped Manchester United 3-1.
Bayern entered with the upper hand, having already mustered up an away goal in the first leg. They showcased that by playing comfortable and dominating possession.
But as the first half ended, it was still scoreless and United were one strike away from putting the defending champions' backs against the wall.
And right on cue, that strike came. United opened up their offense in the second half to search for a goal and got Patrice Evra in space outside the box. Evra buried a furious rip into the top-right corner to make it 1-0 United in the 57th minute.
Suddenly, United were up 2-1 on aggregate and in position to advance. But before they could catch their breath, Munich took the control right back.
Mario Mandzukic came down on the opening Bayern possession after Evra's goal and headed in a cross to revitalize Allianz Arena and Munich's squad.
BAYERN! MANDZUKIC! So much for that.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 9, 2014
That goal tied the score at 1-1. Eight minutes later, Arjen Robben found Thomas Muller about six yards out to make it 2-1 Bayern.
Robben added the finishing touches in the 76th minute by putting a finish past United goalkeeper David de Gea.
United mixed things up in the second half to give themselves a chance, and it put them in control for a mere amount of seconds. But the giants of international club football eventually found their form with plenty of time to tack on three goals.
It's been a disastrous start to David Moyes' tenure as United manager, and this result certainly won't help in that regard. But he didn't waste any time looking forward to next season, as the club's official Twitter noted:
David Moyes: "My focus now is on getting this team back in the competition. Hopefully it will only be one year where we have to rebuild."— Manchester United (@ManUtd) April 9, 2014
After this sour exit and having seen their names eliminated from Premier League title contention, United are stuck vying for an improbable spot in next year's Champions League—which would require beating out Arsenal, Everton and Tottenham for fourth place in the EPL. Other than that, it's onto the summer and roster improvements to try to field a title-contending squad in 2014-15.
For Bayern Munich, it's business as usual. They clinched the Bundesliga title weeks ago, and now stroll onto the semifinals of the Champions League to try to defend their crown.
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Barcelona
Barcelona did Barcelona things Wednesday, dominating possession for much of the game despite playing on the road. But it didn't produce a goal, which means Neymar and company were bounced from the Champions League by Atletico Madrid, 1-0 Wednesday and 2-1 aggregate.
And if they follow suit of previous clubs to have beaten Barcelona, as Paul Carr of ESPN notes, they should be just fine:
Barcelona have won just two of their previous 8 Champions League matches against fellow Spanish sides (W2 D3 L3). #UCL— FootballFacts101 (@FootballFact101) April 9, 2014
The first 20 minutes were all Atletico. Fueled by their raucous crowd, they attacked Barcelona with a flurry of offensive moves and it didn't take long for them to cash in as Koke put Atletico Madrid on top in the fifth minute.
That wasn't the end of their first-half firepower. In fact, they drilled the post three times in the opening half.
David Villa hits the post for a third time. Atletico should be 3-0 up. Lady Luck seems to smitten with Barcelona tonight.— ST Sports Desk (@STsportsdesk) April 9, 2014
Barcelona held a massive 71 percent possession advantage over Atletico. But despite their gaudy advantage in that area, quality moves into the attacking third were more scarce than that of their counterpart as Atletico had more shots on goal and in total.
Forced back onto defense for much of the second half, Atletico didn't budge and held Barcelona off the scoreboard. Neymar committed more fouls than shots, and neither he nor Lionel Messi notched a shot on goal on the night.
In the end, the underdogs are moving on and the giants have been sent home.
Atletico have a chance to face their second consecutive La Liga foe in the premier international club tournament if they draw Real Madrid in the semifinal round.
Meanwhile, this loss could give Barcelona a unique advantage. Them, Real Madrid and Atletico are all fighting to win the La Liga title in a tight race, and the extra rest could pay dividends for Messi and company.