FC Bayern München stunned the UEFA Champions League holders and silenced the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium by grabbing a precious 1-0 first-leg advantage over Real Madrid CF in their semi-final tie. A snap volley from Brazilian striker Giovane Elber in the 55th minute did the damage and helped the German side win on this ground for the second season running. As long as they don’t lose in next week’s return they are through to the final for the second time in three years.
Real in control
Real will be kicking themselves because they bossed the game but gradually their attacking play lacked conviction. And there will be a long inquest into how they conceded the goal to the striker who also scored precious winners over Arsenal FC and Spartak Moscow in the Second Group Stage.
It came out of nothing and Elber himself seemed surprised to discover he had half a yard on Aitor Karanka. How he exploited the opportunity however, striking a volley from 20 metres out and getting it on target though in truth the shot, which bounced twice before entering the net, should not have beaten a goalkeeper of Iker Casillas' class.
After the goal Steve McManaman was just too high with an equalising attempt. Then Iván Helguera wasted a good chance by heading over from a position close to goal. Before that McManaman found himself clear courtesy of a Guti pass but his shooting position was wide and he couldn't squeeze his shot past Oliver Kahn who got a hand to the ball. The German skipper was then relieved that no Real player was available to profit from the parry.
Kahn saves to his left
In the 67th minute Kahn made a spectacular plunge to his left after Raúl had fired a powerful shot on target but from then on Real began to look a tired team. Bayern grew in confidence, now full of belief that they could do what they did to Manchester United FC in the quarter-finals and gain a crucial away victory, and they might have scored again. Mehmet Scholl raided dangerously and his fierce shot was heading for the corner of the net before Casillas took off to push the ball around the post.
Effenberg misses return
One negative from the performance of Ottmar Hitzfeld's team was the booking picked up by captain Stefan Effenberg which will rule him out of the return. However they seem to have a hex on the Spanish side and will not lack for confidence for the second game. They beat Real three times in separate 90-minute battles last season although Real will argue that they got the better of them when it mattered – over the two legs of the semi-finals.
This time Bayern settled much better. Even though Real pressed from the start Bayern's defensive operation was much more organised than 12 months ago when they were two goals adrift with 33 minutes gone.
Real had their chances but they will reflect that it was not one of their better nights. After 15 minutes a splendid overlap by Míchel Salgado carved the defence apart but no one was on hand to turn his low cross into the net.
Chances not taken
Bayern countered and Scholl had an opportunity only to slant his left-footed shot the wrong side of the right-hand post. However it was mostly Real who pressed with Luis Figo forcing Kahn to go down to his left to make the save. Raúl González, fed by Figo, just slipped his shot wide and when Iván Helguera pushed through a delightful pass, Guti was only inches away from making contact.