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Champions League

Ruthless Bayern reach fifth CL semi in a row

Bayern, also chasing a record fourth straight Bundesliga crown as well as the German Cup, were too strong for the Portuguese

Bayern Munich drew 2-2 at Benfica on Wednesday to reach the Champions League semi-finals for the fifth consecutive season with a 3-2 aggregate victory and remain on track for a treble of titles.

Arturo Vidal’s 38th-minute goal cancelled out the hosts’ early lead through Raul Jimenez’s header.

Bayern added another goal through Thomas Muller’s volley from a Javi Martinez header in the 53rd minute to knock out the Portuguese side who managed a late equaliser through Talisca.

Former European champions Benfica were vying for their first semi-final appearance in more than a quarter of a century but suffered their fourth elimination in their fourth European tie against Bayern.

“It was a sensational atmosphere but it was hard work,” said Bayern captain Philipp Lahm, who played his 103rd Champions League game to become joint leader in Germany along with former Bayern keeper Oliver Kahn.

“We had to be more precise than in the first game, close the spaces between midfield and defence and we did it better tonight. We remained calm after the goal and worked hard,” said Lahm.

Benfica, missing top strikers Jonas, Gaitan and Kostas Mitroglou through suspension or injury, were on the back foot as expected with the Germans controlling 70 percent of possession.

Muller had the Germans’ first good chance but fired wide after 15 minutes with Benfica’s double backline working extremely hard.

The hosts struck following a quick break when Eliseu found space to cross from the left and Jimenez charged past two defenders to score with a flying header.

The Mexican went close to adding another but Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer did well to parry his shot.

The Bavarians looked briefly rattled by the setback but quickly recovered when Vidal, who scored the winner in the first leg, drilled in the equaliser after perfectly timing his shot from keeper Ederson’s clearance.

Coach Pep Guardiola had surprisingly kept top scorer Robert Lewandowski on the bench and Muller took over his role, slipping in like a natural centre forward and volleying in a Martinez assist.

Bayern, also chasing a record fourth straight Bundesliga crown as well as the German Cup, did not let up and Douglas Costa’ powerful shot hit the post on the hour.

Martinez was lucky not to be sent off for a last-man foul and Benfica coach Rui Vitoria was sent to the stands over the referee’s decision to book the Spaniard.

But Talisca gave him something to smile about, curling the resulting free kick superbly past Neuer to cap a battling performance against the German giants.

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