Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid Squeak by Bayern Munich in UCL Semi-Final

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistApril 25, 2018

Real Madrid's Spanish midfielder Marco Asensio celebrates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions League semi-final first-leg football match FC Bayern Munich v Real Madrid CF in Munich in southern Germany on April 25, 2018. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
CHRISTOF STACHE/Getty Images

Real Madrid produced a poor performance but still managed to beat Bayern Munich 2-1 at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday to earn a crucial advantage from their UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg.

Substitute Marco Asensio took full advantage of Rafinha's disastrous mistake to net the eventual winner in the 57th minute of a remarkably low-quality encounter between two of Europe's biggest sides.

Marcelo's fine strike had cancelled out Joshua Kimmich's opener late in a first half dominated by Bayern.

Real were clinical in claiming what could be a crucial second away goal, but neither side covered themselves in glory.

There was certainly little on show to worry Liverpool, who look set to be Bayern or Real's final opponents after thrashing AS Roma 5-2 in their semi-final first leg on Tuesday. 

                   

Asensio Clinical on Night of Mistakes

There was plenty of deserved hype leading up to Wednesday's clash between two giants of football, but the overwhelming emotion for any neutral at full-time was one of disappointment.

Quality was sorely lacking on both sides, with Bayern unable to convert numerous opportunities and even Cristiano Ronaldo drawing a blank to end his remarkable goalscoring run, per Squawka:

Ian Doyle of the Liverpool Echo gave his considered opinion on the action:

However, half-time substitute Asensio showed composure and class lacking elsewhere to net the winner early in the second period.

The chance came from a dreadful mistake by Rafinha as he gave away the ball to the Real youngster on the halfway line.

The 22-year-old released Lucas Vazquez on the right and then chipped a deft finish over Bayern goalkeeper Sven Ulreich after receiving the return ball in the box:

      

Marcelo Spoils 1st-Half Party at Allianz Arena

After a somewhat cagey opening, the hosts took the lead through Kimmich in the 28th minute.

The right-back was played into space on the right by a fine James Rodriguez ball, but he only found the back of the net thanks to a Keylor Navas mistake, with the Costa Rican stopper incorrectly guessing Kimmich would cross and leaving a huge space at the near post.

Ben Hayward of Goal was unimpressed:

Real's shape subsequently deserted them, and after chances for Franck Ribery, Mats Hummels, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller went begging, Los Blancos would have been lucky to go in just a goal behind.

As it was, they levelled a minute before the break, with Marcelo driving a left-footed first-time hit into the bottom corner from the edge of the box for an equaliser the visitors barely deserved:

      

Bayern Suffer Early Injury Blows

Before any of the goals went in and, in truth, before the game took any real shape, Bayern lost Arjen Robben to injury in the eighth minute.

MUNICH, GERMANY - APRIL 25: Arjen Robben of Bayern Muenchen walks off the pitch with an injury during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final First Leg match between Bayern Muenchen and Real Madrid at the Allianz Arena on April 25, 2018 in Munich, Germany. (
MB Media/Getty Images

Centre-back Jerome Boateng was then forced off with a suspected hamstring problem soon after the hosts went ahead.

Given Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes was without Manuel Neuer, David Alaba, Kingsley Coman and Arturo Vidal before Wednesday's clash, a full-blown injury crisis is now looming. 

      

What's Next?

Before the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday, Real must negotiate a home La Liga clash against Leganes on Saturday.

Bayern, meanwhile, host Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga on the same day but can afford to rest as many players as they want after already wrapping up the title.

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