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Real Madrid proved that they remain the kings of Europe as Joselu’s late brace saved them from imminent elimination to reach the Champions League final with a spectacular 2-1 victory against Bayern Munich at the Bernabéu on Wednesday.

Joselu, the Match of a Career

The veteran forward entered the field only in the 81st minute before scoring both goals for Real Madrid in the dying moments to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Alphonso Davies’ strike 22 minutes from time had put Bayern in a commanding position to set up a German duel at Wembley on June 1, but Joselu’s late brace means it’s Real Madrid who will face Borussia Dortmund in the 2024 UEFA Champions League final.

Just days after clinching their 36th La Liga title, Real Madrid extended their unbeaten streak in competition to 21 matches and now have a chance to extend their own record by winning a record 14th European Cup/Champions League crown. Real certainly made things difficult for themselves tonight.

Match Start

A cautious first half saw Vinícius Júnior come closest to scoring in the 13th minute, but Manuel Neuer’s excellent reflexes diverted the ball onto the inside of the post, before the German goalkeeper quickly regained his composure to save Rodrygo’s follow-up just two seconds later.

On the hour mark, Neuer once again made a crucial stop against Vinícius Júnior. The Brazilian was a constant threat to Bayern throughout the match, as he was in the first leg, scoring both of Real’s goals in last week’s 2-2 draw.

Second-Half Return

Bayern Munich’s tactic was clear: absorb pressure and try to catch Real on the counterattack. In the 68th minute, that tactic paid off.

After winning possession on the edge of their own penalty area, a long pass from Harry Kane found Davies on the left side. The Canadian winger cut inside and sent a curling shot beyond Andriy Lunin to stun the Bernabéu. It was Davies’ first goal in the UEFA Champions League and his 40th appearance in the competition.

Real Madrid thought they had equalized just three minutes later via a much more chaotic route. After a Real corner, the ball found its way into the net through Matthijs de Ligt, but VAR saved Bayern. Nacho was judged to have pushed Joshua Kimmich in the face as the ball entered the penalty area before the Real captain deflected the ball onto De Ligt’s shin.

Real were frustrated by Bayern and Neuer until the experienced goalkeeper made an unusual error to gift Joselu the equalizer just two minutes from time.
Following a weak shot from Vinícius Júnior, the German goalkeeper spilled the ball at the feet of the 34-year-old striker, who made no mistake.
Just 164 seconds later, Joselu won the match and qualification for Real with his second goal, which was validated after VAR judged he was in an onside position before slotting the ball into the net on a cross from Antonio Rüdiger.

Joselu now has 17 goals in all competitions for Real this season, behind only Jude Bellingham (22) and Vinícius Júnior (21). Some had doubts when he joined the Spanish giants on loan from Espanyol last summer after suffering two consecutive relegations in La Liga with them and Alavés the previous season, but there are surely no doubts about his value to Real now.

A thought for Harry Kane, who is now sure to finish the season without a trophy (again), despite his incredible personal performances in his first season as a Bayern player. When he left the field in the 85th minute, Bayern were leading and seemed poised to contest an all-German Champions League final that they would have been favored to win.

“We’ve seen it many times this season where it seemed like we were dead and buried… No matter who scores the goals, but someone always does… that mentality of never giving up,” said Jude Bellingham, who will play against his former club in the final, on TNT Sports.

But tonight, it’s Joselu’s night, not Kane’s. Three minutes of madness, and it’s Real heading to Wembley.

The Editorial Ratings from This is Beirut

Real Madrid: Lunin (7); Carvajal (7), Rudiger (7), Nacho (7), Mendy (6); Valverde (6), Tchouameni (6), Kroos (7), Rodrygo (7), Bellingham (6), Vinicius (8) Substitutes: Modric (7), Joselu (9), Diaz (7), Camavinga (6), Militao (n/a)
Bayern Munich: Neuer (7); Kimmich (5), De Ligt (7), Dier (7), Mazraoui (6); Laimer (7), Pavlovic (6); Sane (5), Musiala (6), Gnabry (5); Kane (7) Substitutes: Davies (8), Muller (6), Choupo-Moting (6), Kim (4)
Man of the Match: Joselu (Real Madrid)