Real serve knockout punch

Real serve knockout punch

Real Madrid tore Bayern Munich apart with three goals in 18 astonishing first-half minutes to reach the Champions League final with a 4-0 win on a dreadful night for the holders at a stunned Allianz Arena on Tuesday.

Two headers from Sergio Ramos, a breathtaking breakaway goal by Cristiano Ronaldo and a late free kick by the Portuguese forward in a one-sided semifinal, second leg handed Bayern their heaviest home defeat in European competition.

Bayern, beaten 5-0 on aggregate, were impotent in attack and ragged at the back and their performance left a stain on the reputation of their  coach Pep Guardiola.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's South American-style forays out of his penalty area had the home fans living on the edge while Bayern's shocked players reacted petulantly to a number of tackles as they lost their composure.

The third goal summed up Real's counter-attacking performance as they broke from their own penalty area to score in a matter of seconds.

Gareth Bale played the ball to Angel Di Maria, who released Karim Benzema on the right, with the Frenchman playing the ball inside to Bale and he quickly sent a pass to his left where Ronaldo slipped the ball past Neuer.

Real, who will face Chelsea or Atletico Madrid in the May 24 final, did to Bayern exactly what the Bavarians had done to Barca last year when a 7-0 aggregate semifinal win had pundits predicting an era of dominance for the Munich side in Europe.

The only disappointment for Real was a yellow card for midfielder Xabi Alonso who will miss the final as a result.

Bayern, previously unbeaten in nine home meetings against Real, duly wrapped up the Bundesliga title this season with seven games to spare but have suffered a dramatic loss of momentum since then.

Nine-times champions Real, meanwhile, are back in the final after a 12-year absence which has included four semifinal defeats, including the last three seasons, one quarterfinal loss and six round of 16 eliminations.

Bayern, trailing 1-0 from the first leg, laid siege to Real's goal early on while the crowd attempted to intimidate the Spaniards by whistling incessantly when they had possession.

But, although they huffed and puffed, the hosts rarely threatened and there was always a risk they would concede a killer away goal.

That arrived in the 16th minute when Ramos rose unmarked at the far post to score with a powerful downward header.

Amid general disbelief, Real struck again four minutes later when Angel di Maria's free kick was flicked on and Ramos headed into the corner.

The setback saw Bayern lose their composure, leaving them wide open to Real's ruthless counter-attacks, including Ronaldo's effort just past the half hour.

There was an incredible moment shortly afterwards when Neuer came racing out of his goal and sent his clearance to Ronaldo who tried to score from 40 metres but saw his shot bounce over.

However, a dazed Bayern side looked almost relieved to be only 3-0 down until Ronaldo sent a free kick under the wall in the last minute to complete an astonishing evening for Madrid.

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