Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich: Final score 1-0, Benzema stings Bavarians on the break

Martin Rose

Karim Benzema's first half goal was enough for Real Madrid to down Bayern Munich 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal.

Real Madrid will take a slim 1-0 advantage into their Champions League semifinal second leg in Munich, after they downed Bayern by a single goal at the Santiago Bernabéu on Wednesday. Karim Benzema's early strike was all the Merengues needed to snatch victory; frustrating their visitors for the remainder of the match.

Bayern followed Pep Guardiola's script insofar as they dominated possession throughout the first half, though the Catalan coach would've been rather less impressed by their chance creation, or lack thereof. Real Madrid defended with two compact banks of four from the outset, restricting their Bavarian visitors to a few half-chances in the first 45 minutes.

However, the hosts managed to blend their defensive sturdiness with some lethal counterattacking, particularly looking to take advantage of Bayern's weakness down the right. It took just 20 minutes before Cristiano Ronaldo sent Fábio Coentrão into space down said flank, with the fullback's square pass tapped in at the far post by Benzema.

It was the first of three almost identical chances that Real created by taking advantage of the defensive weakness of Bayern's right-back Rafinha, though fortunately for the visitors, only Benzema had brought his shooting boots. Both Ronaldo and Ángel di María squandered their chances from pointblank range, with Bayern lucky to just be a goal down at the break.

Fortunately for them, Real's counterattacks were a little less stinging after the restart, with Carlo Ancelotti's side looking increasingly ponderous in possession. But in the defensive phase they stayed as sturdy as ever, and still Bayern looked no closer to breaching Iker Casillas' goal. The best chance again fell to the hosts, with Manuel Neuer diving to keep out Ronaldo's driven near-post effort with just over 20 minutes left.

Guardiola promptly made all three changes in the space of eight minutes, looking to shake his side up and prise Madrid open. The offensive additions of the mobile Mario Götze and Thomas Müller almost paid dividends, though the latter lashed wide minutes before Casillas made a vital stop on the former. Müller also appealed for a penalty in stoppage time, though referee Howard Webb was unmoved. Real hung on, just.

Real Madrid: Casillas; Coentrão, Ramos, Pepe (Varane 73'), Carvajal; Modrić, Alonso, di María; Ronaldo (Bale 74'), Benzema, Isco (Illarramendi 82').

Goals: Benzema (19').

Bayern Munich: Neuer; Alaba, Dante, Boateng, Rafinha (Martínez 66'); Lahm; Ribéry (Götze 72'), Schweinsteiger (Müller 74'), Kroos, Robben; Mandžukić.

Goals: None.

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