HISTORY MAKERS! Zidane’s men qualify for Champions League final


Real Madrid are waiting for Liverpool in Kiev convinced that they are about to create another piece of European history.


The Spanish giants will be bidding to become the first team to win the Champions League three times in a row.


And they are not losing too much sleep about Jurgen Klopp’s Reds after taking care of PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich on their way to next month’s final.


Two goals from Karim Benzema were just about enough to see off German Champions Bayern on a crazy night in the Bernabeu.


Yet it is clear that Zinedine Zidane’s team are not the unstoppable force they once were.


And if Liverpool hold their nerve against Roma, they will know they can cause the defending European champions no end of problems in the Ukrainian capital on May 26.


No team has lifted the European Cup more times than 12-time winners Real and failure in next month’s final is not an option for Zidane after surrendering the Spanish League title to Barcelona.


But with Cristiano Ronaldo strangely subdued and Gareth Bale no longer more than a substitute, it’s a good job that Benzema is still keeping Madrid’s BBC on air.


Yet Real’s defence is far from flawless and Mo Salah will fancy his chances of testing the ageing Sergio Ramos if Liverpool do make it through their semi-final.


Klopp will certainly identify plenty of Madrid weaknesses when he gets to analyse the tapes of this semi-final second leg in the coming weeks.


Bayern’s veteran boss Jupp Heynckes had insisted ahead of this tie that that creating scoring opportunities was a part of his club’s DNA.


Yet Real clearly didn’t pay much attention to that warning from their former coach and found themselves a goal down after just three minutes.


Thomas Muller’s cross from the right should have been comfortably dealt with by Ramos.


But the Real skipper failed to clear under pressure from Corentin Tolisso and the ball dropped perfectly for Joshua Kimmich to slam home from close range.


It was full-back Kimmich who had also fired the German Champions ahead in last week’s first leg.


But just as in the Allianz Arena, Bayern could not hold onto their lead for long and surrendered the initiative almost immediately.


And while the Bernabeu may have been plunged into a state of shock by Bayern’s early strike, Real’s measured response reinforced their belief that when it comes to the Champions League, they can score almost at will.


A long meandering sequence of passes appeared to be going nowhere until Marcelo found enough room to deliver a deep cross to the back post where Benzema was lurking totally unattended to head in.


It was the Frenchman’s first goal from open play in almost three months and the perfect riposte to all those Madristas who had questioned his place in Zidane’s starting line-up.


Bayern, though, were not going quietly and claimed they should have had a penalty when Robert Lewandowski went down under Ramos’ challenge as he tried to turn onto Tolisso’s through ball.


And the visitors should have reclaimed the lead in the 34th minute when Lewandowski and Muller created havoc in the Real penalty area before James Rodriguez somehow cleared the bar from two yards out.


Bayern had another penalty shout rejected when Kimmich’s cross struck Marcelo on the arm from close range as Real continued to ride their luck.


Yet any German hopes of wrecking the Bernabeu party were destroyed just 22 seconds into the second-half by an extraordinary error from keeper Sven Ulreich.


Ulreich, deputising for the injured Manuel Neuer, appeared to forget that he couldn’t handle Tolisson’s back pass then fell over as he tried to rectify his mistake.


Benzema could hardly believe his good fortune as he found himself a yard in front of an unprotected goal with the ball at his feet.


It was a gift which he was not about to turn down.


Yet even then Bayern were not finished and Rodriguez sent the Bernabeu into meltdown when he forced a 63rd minute shot through the legs of Keylor Navas.


The Germans were now just one goal from the final and threw the kitchen sink at Real in a desperate attempt to secure the breakthrough.


Navas was forced into a full length save by Tolisso and Ramos denied Rodriguez with a vital block as Real just about held out.


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