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FCB in Madrid

All still to play for after narrow defeat

After the shock of conceding an early goal, Bayern dominated Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg clash away to Atletico Madrid - and there is still everything to play for in the second leg for Pep Guardiola’s men despite a narrow and somewhat unlucky 1-0 defeat in the Spanish capital.

The passionate and boisterous 52,851 full house at Estadio Vicente Calderon saw Saúl Niguez hand the energetic hosts an 11th-minute lead with a solo effort, but the visitors steadily clawed their way back into it and David Alaba smacked a shot off the bar early in the second half. Munich pinned the Spaniards back into their final third for long spells but a yearned-for away goal refused to come and Guardiola’s side must now win by two goals at home to make the final in Milan.

The Allianz Arena now hosts two of the biggest matches of the season in quick succession: prior to next Tuesday’s decisive return at home to Madrid, the Bavarians will seek to wrap up the domestic league title once and for all with a win at home to long-standing rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday.

Lewy, Costa and Kingsley up front

Guardiola sprang a surprise or two with his line-up, as Thomas Müller and Franck Ribéry began on the bench in a relatively defensive formation. Instead, Robert Lewandowski, Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman formed the forward line with Thiago, Arturo Vidal and Xabi Alonso in midfield.

In defence, Guardiola opted not to include Jérôme Boateng in the matchday squad, sending out a back four of Philipp Lahm, Javi Martínez, David Alaba and Juan Bernat in front of Manuel Neuer.

Atlético were without injured centre-back Diego Godin, his place going to young José Maria Gimenez. Otherwise, boss Diego Simeone made two further changes compared to the quarter-final return against Barça with Stefan Savic replacing Lucas Hernandez in central defence and Fernando Torres returning after suspension in place of Yannick-Ferreira Carrasco.

Goal down at the break

After English referee Mark Clattenburg whistled play underway, Simeone’s team hit the gas straight away with Saúl and Torres both warming Neuer’s gloves, before Saúl opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a mazy dribble and cool left-footed finish off the inside of the post.

Bayern were stung into a response and home keeper Jan Oblak was rescued by Gimenez’ goal line clearance after Vidal’s header evaded the shot-stopper, with Alaba shooting wide and Costa’s 25th-minuute free-kick hitting the side-netting.

Lahm had a penalty shout turned down when Augusto Fernandez appeared to block the FCB captain’s shot with his arm, but the home side posed a deadly threat on the break and Neuer saved sharply with his foot from Antoine Griezmann.

However, the visitors had gained a toehold now with Coman and Costa beginning to find space on the flanks, but Simeone’s men were formidable opponents and Martinez made an important block to thwart Koke, before Bernat smacked the last chance of the half into the crowd from distance.

Reds dominate second half

Munich began the second half in the ascendancy with Coman directing a header wide of the target, before Alaba was desperately unlucky to see his 54th-miniute belter from fully 30 yards crash against the underside of the bar and away to safety.

The visitors kept up the pressure with Oblak getting down well to a Martinez header, Coman thrusting into the box but seeing his effort blocked, and Lewandowski skewing an angled drive across the face of goal. Ribery took over from Coman on 64 minutes and Müller replaced Thiago six minutes later, before Costa spooned a glorious chance over the bar from Lahm’s sublime through ball.

It was all Bayern now with Oblak beating out Vidal’s piledriver, but there was a let-off for the Reds on 75 minutes when Torres struck the post after a lightning-quick Atlético break. Mehdi Benatia played the last quarter of an hour instead of Bernat as FCB piled forward in search of an equaliser, but Alaba’s rising drive landed in the crowd, Oblak saved Costa’s shot, and Banatia just failed to get on the end of a Ribery cross as time ran out for the visitors.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley