Bayern Munich have been stunned at home in their Champions League knock-out round clash with Inter Milan, going down 3-2 and exiting the tournament. Last year's champions overturned a one-goal deficit to claim victory.
Bayern had too many missed opportunities
Bayern Munich were dumped out of the Champions League after conceding a last-minute goal to Inter Milan to go down 3-2 at the Allianz Arena in Munich on Tuesday.
Inter had traveled to Germany with a clear mission: to score goals. After losing 1-0 in the first leg of their Round of 16 clash with Bayern in Milan, Inter midfielder Wesley Sneijder had proclaimed his team would need to find the back of the net in the second leg, and find it they did.
Veteran striker Samuel Eto'o scored after only four minutes, silencing the Munich crowd before their seats had warmed. Bayern struck back however, re-taking the aggregate lead in the 21st minute thanks to striker Mario Gomez. Thomas Müller extended that lead 10 minutes later when he cleverly chipped Inter keeper Julio Cesar.
Gomez (R) and Müller (L) should have put away more goals
Bayern dominated play over the next 30 minutes and could have netted once or twice more, but failed to put away their opponents. By the hour mark, Bayern appeared to be running out of steam, allowing Sneijder to fire in a right-footed shot from outside the area in the 63rd minute.
The final nail was hammered in on 88 minutes when Eto'o dispossessed Brazilian defender Breno and squared to Goran Pandev who placed his shot in the roof of the net.
Failure to finish
Football analyst Paul Chapman gave credit to Inter for a stirring comeback: "Bayern were in the driver's seat with a 2-1 lead - a 3-1 lead on aggregate - and it looked all over. But Inter Milan came back strongly in the last half an hour."
A turning point in the match came in the 68th minute when Bayern star Arjen Robben was substituted, seemingly carrying a slight injury.
"Bayern didn't carry the same threat after that. Inter Milan threw caution to the wind and got the two goals they needed in the closing stages of the game," Chapman said. "[Bayern] deserved more from what was a tremendous performance, especially the first 60 minutes of the game."
Chapman singled out Robben and out-of-form Frenchman Franck Ribery as performers on the night, but said Gomez and Thomas Müller were both guilty of squandering chances in front of goal.
Goran Pandev nailed the winner in the 88th minute
"Since [Müller and Gomez] had both scored on the night, you'd have thought they'd both have the confidence. But a couple of times, Gomez made the wrong decision," Chapman said. "Franck Ribery was unlucky with some of his finishing. He played some wonderful football out on the left flank. Arjen Robben, as always, was a nuisance, especially in the first half, and Inter Milan couldn't control him. We saw some wonderful Bayern football, the kind they play only when they're at their best."
But, at the end of the day, what caught Bayern out was their usual problem - central defense. Breno was drafted in alongside Daniel Van Buyten, with coach Louis van Gaal pushing Luiz Gustavo upfield to mark Wesley Sneijder.
"Breno was directly or indirectly responsible for all three of Inter Milan's goals. He was taken off in the 90th minute, far too late," Chapman said. "I think, at the end of the day, Louis van Gaal tactically got it wrong. I think if he was going to play Daniel Van Buyten then he needed to have somebody like Luiz Gustavo alongside him, not Breno, who tends to go to sleep and misjudge situations, as he did in the case of Inter Milan's winning goal, which was absolutely disastrous.
"A simple clearance was called for on the edge of the area, he hesitated, Inter Milan were in and they won the match."
Bayern's stars rued their missed opportunities and inability to close the game out.
"We only have ourselves to blame," said Mario Gomez. "It really hurts because we played great for 65 minutes. In the end we were perhaps to sure of ourselves, we only wanted to run the game down. We were too passive and everyone passed the responsibility on to someone else."
Eto'o (L) was among Inter's star performers on the night
Bastian Schweinsteiger said Bayern should have wrapped the game up long before the end.
"We played very badly on the break [in the second half]," he said. "We didn't play well tactically and weren't compact enough. It is unbelievable that we have gone out to Inter. In my eyes Inter were finished, they couldn't run any more."
The loss caps a forgettable year for Bayern who sit in fourth place in the Bundesliga and face fierce competition for a spot in the next edition of the Champions League. Added to this, the team was knocked out of the German Cup semi-finals only two weeks ago, forcing many at the club to consider this season a write-off.
Bayern has already announced that coach van Gaal would be leaving the club at the end of the season. With only eight league rounds remaining, he is likely to hold on to his position and avoid an even earlier exit after bidding farewell to this year's Champions League trophy.
In Tuesday's other fixture, Manchester United toppled Marseille 2-1 at home to progress to the quarterfinals thanks to a brace from Javier Hernandez.
Author: Darren Mara
Editor: David Levitz