The semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League are ready.
Erling Haaland made up for his missed penalty in the first half by scoring his tournament-leading 12th goal in the second as Manchester City drew 1-1 at Bayern Munich in Germany on Wednesday to take a 4-1 lead on aggregate. The Sky Blues will face defending champions Real Madrid two years later next month for a place in June’s final in Istanbul.
Inter Milan and Benfica drew 3-3 in Wednesday’s other wild game, with Inter leading 5-3 on aggregate on home-and-home goals. Inter meet city rivals and seven-time European champions AC Milan in the other semi-final.
Here are three quick recaps of Wednesday’s games.
Manchester City complete the defeat of Bayern Munich
Despite losing to City by a seemingly insurmountable three goals, Bayern looked like they could really make a game of it in the early hours of Wednesday. Then the same sort of unforced, self-inflicted errors that cost the Bundesliga’s most dominant club so dearly last week in soggy England reappeared.
Defender Dayot Upamecano was again the main culprit. An offside penalty prevented Upamecano from being sent off early dragging Haaland as he ran solo against home goalkeeper Yann Sommer, but it was a sign of things to come. It was Upamecano’s handball that sent Haaland into the post only for the Norwegian to tap home his effort well above Sommer’s network.
Haaland made no mistake when his next chance arrived. He raced onto a pass from Kevin De Bruyne and isolated Upamecano, sending the centre-back sliding to the turf with a gentle stutter before calmly finishing at the far post:
Joshua Kimmich pulled one back late on for the hosts, but Haaland’s strike had settled the score long before then. Haaland has now scored 48 goals in all competitions during the 2022-23 season. He is the main reason why Pep Guardiola’s side will be slight favorites against holders and record 14-time champions Real in the next round, and why this could finally be City’s year.
[AC Milan snaps 16-year semifinal drought, Real Madrid hands Chelsea latest blow]
Inter hold their own against the brave Benfica
When Nicolo Barella made it 1-0 in Milan and 3-0 on aggregate on Wednesday, Benfica could have folded. The Portuguese, on the other hand, continued to fight, as they have done all season. The home side scored two more goals through Odysseas Vlachodimos and the visitors were still not out, eventually grabbing a couple of goals in the last nine minutes, including Petar Musa’s equalizer almost five minutes from time. second part discount.
So Benfica deserve a lot of credit for the way they approached this game, and for their hugely impressive Champions League campaign overall. Still, while Inter didn’t end up winning at home, scoring three goals did what was needed to keep the visitors at bay and set up a delicious Milan clash in the next round with a trip to the Super Football club bowl in play.
Simone Inzaghi’s side will need to defend better than they did on Wednesday to come out of these two competitions with bragging rights around the San Siro. AC Milan will undoubtedly be the bookies’ choice. But that’s a concern for the next month; For Inter, returning to the semi-finals for the first time in 13 years is clearly a triumph. And the race isn’t over yet.
There are plenty of storylines in the star-studded semifinals
There are the two most decorated teams in the history of the competition in Real Madrid and AC Milan. There’s Real trying to retain the trophy against the club, City, who for years have made lifting it not only their top priority, but an obsession, only to fail at or near the goal time and time again time, including this very enemy, at this moment. same stage, last year.
There’s Haaland, the greatest pure goalscorer the sport has seen since Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were in their prime a decade ago and the man who could finally get the Sky Blues over the hump in La Liga champions
Then you have one of the great city rivalries in the match between Serie A mainstays AC Milan and Inter, with at least one of Italy’s legacy clubs assured of reaching the final for the first time in over ‘a decade, playing over 180 minutes in the iconic stadium they share in the fashion capital of the world.
AC Milan and Inter Milan have not met in the Champions League since the quarter-finals in 2005. The former won the last of their seven continental titles in 2007; Inter has three European crowns, 2010 being the most recent. In a grandiose competition that’s all about glitz and glamour, it’s hard to ask for a more intriguing final four.
Doug McIntyre is a football writer for FOX Sports. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a writer for ESPN and Yahoo Sports and has covered the US men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Follow him on Twitter @By Doug McIntyre.
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