Bayern Munich thrash Barcelona 4 - 0 in Champions League semi-final
Bayern Munich are on course for their third Champions League final in four years after a comprehensive and convincing 4-0 win over Barcelona in the first leg of the semi-final at the Allianz Arena.
Two goals from Thomas Muller and one each from Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben gave Jupp Heynckes' side an advantage which, added to the manner of their victory, leaves the Catalans little hope of turning things around at the Nou Camp next Wednesday.
Barcelona eased into their possession game from the outset, but Bayern, a side who wrapped up the Bundesliga in record time this season, and scored 16 goals in the space of 10 days recently, certainly had no reason to feel inferior.
Not only did they play Barca at their own game, they did it even better.
For Xavi, read Javi Martinez, for a well-marshalled Messi, you could take your pick from either Robben, Muller or Franck Ribery.
Quicker to close down their opponents, Bayern were also swifter in spreading the play, and unsurprisingly they had the first chance with Robben exchanging passes with Martinez before shooting straight at Victor Valdes in the second minute.
Bayern had a clear hunger to make amends for last May's defeat to Chelsea, a result which remains a painful memory in these parts.
Two penalty appeals which had convinced the Allianz Arena crowd were not as much entertained by referee Viktor Kassai.
But Bayern did not need any helping hands as they crafted out a stylish opener in the 25th minute.
Arjen Robben's cross from the right picked out Dante at the far post, and he returned the ball to the opposite post where Muller was encroaching to head in the opener with Victor Valdes unable to stop the ball before it crept in.
Muller was the man who had given Bayern the lead in the final last May, but few were now thinking back to what happened next in that game.
Dante averted a minor scare five minutes later when he got in a vital touch just in front of an anonymous Messi from Pedro's cross, but that was a mere punctuation in a dominant display from Bayern.
Their superiority became reflected in the scorelline in the 49th minute when Robben's corner was headed down at the far post by Muller with an unmarked Gomez sweeping the ball in from underneath the crossbar.
An intrepid Robben then set up Ribery, who dragged a shot wide of the far post in the 55th minute as Bayern sought a greater cushion.
They established that in the 72nd minute when Robben capped a fine individual performance by sliding the ball inside the far post after getting in around the back of Jordi Alba, who appeared to be impeded by Muller in the build-up.
Marc Bartra wasted a rare opportunity for the guests in the 76th minute before Muller wrapped things up six minutes later, tucking the ball in from close range after David Alaba got round the back of Barca's crumbling defence.
Belfast Telegraph Digital