(BARCELONA WON 5-3 ON AGGREGATE)
TREBLE-CHASING Barcelona boss Luis Enrique immediately set his sights on claiming the Champions League title after his side withstood a Bayern Munich fightback in the second leg of their semi final clash at the Allianz Arena last night.
Despite trailing 3-0 from the first leg following a harrowing final 15 minutes at Camp Nou last week, German champions Bayern briefly rekindled hope of an unlikely comeback thanks to Morocco centre-half Medhi Benatia’s early header.
But the Catalans turned on the style to lead at the break and effectively end Bayern and former manager Pep Guardiola’s interest in the tie, as Neymar twice produced clinical finishes after combining with former Liverpool forward Luis Suarez.
Bayern refused to lie down although second-half curling efforts from Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller merely dented Barcelona’s imposing aggregate advantage, while defeat temporarily robbed Enrique’s troops of a club record 48th win of the season.
“This is a nice moment but we have to seal the deal in the final,” said Enrique. “We now want to be champions of Europe. We’re one win away from winning each of the three competitions. This is our mission.
“I’m happy with the performance of the players. They should be congratulated. Who do I want in the final? Whoever deserves it more.”
In reaching their first Champions League final since 2011, Barcelona’s success maintains the possibility of meeting Spanish rivals and reigning European champions Real Madrid in Berlin on 6 June.
Despite the two teams contesting a combined total of 20 European Cup finals, there has never been an El Clasico showpiece. Real currently trail Italian champions Juventus 2-1 ahead of tonight’s second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Bayern boss Guardiola said: “I want to pay a big compliment to Barcelona. I hope in Berlin they can win their fifth Champions League. They deserve it, they are the best team in the world right now.”