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Champions League: Vidal drives Bayern Munich past Benfica and into semifinals

A draw in the return leg was enough to send Bayern Munich into the semifinals of the Champions League. Arturo Vidal and Thomas Müller scored as Bayern remain on course to win the treble this season.

Benfica 2-2 Bayern Munich (Bayern win 3-2 on aggregate)

(Jimenez 27', Talisca 76' - Vidal 37', Müller 52')

Bayern Munich survived a scare in Lisbon to secure a place in the Champions League semifinals for a fifth consecutive season. After Benfica's Raul Jimenez leveled the scores in the first half, Arturo Vidal and Thomas Müller netted either side of the break to put the German champions in the driving seat.

Benfica managed to equalize on the night through Talisca, but Pep Guardiola's side weathered the storm to reach the last four as they look to win the title for a sixth time.

Guardiola raised eyebrows with his selection, leaving top scorer Robert Lewandowski on the bench. Lewandowski hadn't scored in his last three games and was one yellow card away from suspension - all disciplinary records are wiped after the quarterfinal stage. Javi Martinez lined up at center-back alongside Joshua Kimmich, with Xabi Alonso replacing Juan Bernat.

Without the services of Lewandowski, who had netted 44 goals for club and country this season before kickoff, Guardiola rearranged his attacking line, moving Müller into a central role with Franck Ribery and Douglas Costa on the flanks. Vidal was the destroyer as part of a three-man midfield, while Thiago Alcantara played the inside-forward role as delicately as his skilled passing.

The Bundesliga club, seven points ahead at the top of the league, could have hardly wished for a more dominant, controlled start to the game. Philipp Lahm's brief forays into Benfica territory carried potential, the full-back setting up for Douglas Costa and then a half-chance for Thomas Müller in the 19th minute. Vidal's header on 21 minutes was tepid, but an indication of the role he would play later in the tie.

SL Benfica vs. FC Bayern Muenchen

Jimenez puts Benfica ahead, but the Portuguese champions can't reach first semi since 1990

But Bayern and Guardiola conceded first, 27 minutes into the first half. The Mexican international Jimenez attacked a long, hopeful ball with gusto, earning his just rewards by grabbing the opener for the Portuguese champions. While Manuel Neuer's attempt to clear was reckless, the lackadaisical defending from Martinez and David Alaba contributed to Bayern's early deficit.

It seems customary that Bayern's opponents fail to turn the screw at the crucial point after going ahead. With the home crowd still in celebration mode three minutes later, Argentine winger Eduardo Salvio drilled the ball across the box - both Kimmich and Alonso passed up the chance to clear - but Jimenez snatched at the opportunity, leaving Neuer to gather the loose ball.

SL Benfica vs. FC Bayern Muenchen

Müller fires another Champions League - his eighth of the season

Vidal, Müller on song to kill off Benfica

Bayern have been powered on in the Champions League by Vidal who has matured into one of Guardiola's most important players.The Chilean scored the winner in the first leg, and was an outstanding performer in the dramatic win over Juventus in the last 16. The midfielder fired Bayern back level on 37 minutes with a rasping finish from the edge of the box.

Bayern needed six minutes of the second half to kill off the contest when Martinez rose highest at the corner kick and teed up Müller who tapped home from close range. Costa was inches away from adding a third as his shot clipped the outside of the post on the counterattack. On 67 minutes, Alaba combined with Müller, but the German striker was flagged offside as he cushioned past Ederson.

Benfica were given an injection of energy and enthusiasm by their home supporters who turned up the volume with a quarter of an hour left. Martinez was lucky to avoid a straight red card after hacking down substitute Goncalo Galves as he charged through on goal.

The resulting free-kick from Talisca was exquisitely placed into the top corner. The 22-year-old tried to repeat the feat six minutes later, but placed his effort narrowly wide of Neuer's post as Bayern held on to join Manchester City, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid in the semis of the competition. Guardiola's side will find out their next opponents in the Champions League on Friday when the draw takes place.

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