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Joselu inspires Madrid’s comeback with ‘heart’ to beat Bayern

Joselu inspires Madrid’s comeback with ‘heart’ to beat Bayern

Real Madrid staged a spectacular comeback with ‘heart’ against Bayern Munich to reach the Champions League final on Wednesday, with Joselu striking twice in the final minutes to give them a 2-1 victory and eventually take the lead 4-3.

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Alphonso Davies beat the visiting German giants ahead in the second half, but record winners Madrid staged a sensational comeback as Joselu scored in the 88th and 91st minutes.

Spanish champions Real Madrid will take on another German side, Borussia Dortmund, in the Wembley final on June 1 after stunning the team they call their ‘black beast’.

“It’s something magical, there’s no explanation,” said Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti as he enjoyed another exciting evening in the Spanish capital.

Journeyman striker and back-up option Joselu, who came on as a late substitute, wrote his name into Madrid’s history books with his last-gasp goal, giving Europe’s comeback kings another night to remember.

“(The comeback) was with feeling and with heart, as the coach told us: you have to win games with heart,” Joselu said.

Madrid had made the most of the match, but it looked like Davies’ superb strike had set up a repeat of the 2013 all-German final in London.

Instead, Joselu steered Bayern to a first trophyless season since 2012. His first goal came after a handling error by Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who had done a great job of keeping Madrid at bay until that point.

“(Before) there were world-class saves after world-class saves, but that can happen, it’s football,” said Bayern defender Matthijs de Ligt.

– High intensity –

Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel made three changes from the first leg, putting veteran Thomas Mueller and Leon Goretzka on the bench, but the hosts dominated the opening stages.

Neuer produced a brilliant double save to prevent Madrid from taking the lead, allowing the electric Vinicius Junior to hit the post and then saving Rodrygo’s follow-up.

Bayern’s Serge Gnabry limped off injured with Davies replacing him before England captain Harry Kane was in danger for the first time, but Andriy Lunin pushed his vicious volley around the post.

Neuer took away a Vinicius free-kick as the teams ended a brutally frenetic first half.

The second period was just as charged, with Davies’ cross finding the roof of Lunin’s goal.

Vinicius was unplayable down Madrid’s left and Rodrygo poked his low cross painfully wide of the far post.

The 38-year-old Neuer made great saves to deny both Brazilian attackers again before the hour mark as Madrid piled on the pressure.

But just like in Munich, when Los Blancos were at their strongest, Bayern struck.

Canada international Davies cut inside from the left and fired a shot past Lunin into the far top corner after 68 minutes.

Madrid thought they had leveled moments later through Nacho, but following a VAR review the attack was ruled out as the defender had grabbed Joshua Kimmich by the face before shooting.

Tuchel beat Kane, still chasing the first trophy of his career, in the dying stages to try to hold on for victory, but it slipped through his fingers as Madrid conjured up more indelible European memories.

– Referee ‘error’ –

Ancelotti, who was sacked by Bayern in 2017, has kept Madrid’s players involved and committed throughout the season and it has paid off at a crucial time.

Neuer, who had been sublime so far, fumbled what looked like a simple Vinicius strike and substitute Joselu gratefully bundled the ball from close range.

“We had one foot in London, we saw ourselves going through to the final,” lamented the goalkeeper.

With Bayern reeling, Madrid struck decisively again. It was again Joselu, the attacker on loan from second division Espanyol, who returned home after Antonio Rudiger hit the ball back to him.

The goal was ruled offside, but the referees overturned the decision after review, and after almost 15 minutes of stoppage time, Madrid earned the chance to go for their 15th Champions League trophy.

“There have been many times when we looked dead and buried, but we have the mentality of never dying,” said Real midfielder Jude Bellingham.

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Bayern remained furious at full-time after De Ligt scored, but play was stopped beforehand due to an offside flag against Noussair Mazraoui.

“I don’t want to say that at Real Madrid it is always the referee’s fault, but that made the difference today,” grumbled De Ligt, who said the game should have continued.

“It’s bitter, completely bitter,” Tuchel said.