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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Champions League, Real Madrid 3-2 Bayern Munich

Van Bommel Keeps Bayern alive
Two first-half goals from Raúl González and one from Ruud van Nistelrooy gave Real Madrid CF a slender advantage in a vibrant first leg of their UEFA Champions League first knockout round tie with FC Bayern München, whose challenge was revived by Mark van Bommel's late strike. Raúl gave the home side an early lead with a typically predatory effort and, although Lucio swiftly brought the German champions back to level terms, the Madrid captain headed his team in front before the half-hour. Van Nistelrooy then capitalised on some static Bayern defending to provide the Spanish club with a two-goal cushion. The visitors had the better of the second period, however, and got their reward two minutes from time as a crisp half-volley from Van Bommel halved their aggregate deficit.

Fabio Capello
, whose side went into this game with just two goals from their last four Primera División matches, gave UEFA Champions League debuts to Argentinian duo Fernando Gago and Gonzalo Higuaín and the hosts had already launched several forays into the Bayern area by the time they went ahead in the tenth minute. Van Nistelrooy split the away defence with a devastating through-ball and, although Oliver Kahn half-blocked Raúl's attempt to round him, the rebound fell perfectly for the Spanish international to roll his fourth goal of this campaign into the unguarded net.

Bayern regrouped and Brazilian star Lucio nodded the equaliser midway through the first period to stun the packed home crowd.

From David Beckham's corner on the right Ivan Helguera headed goalwards and Raul bundled the ball home. Six minutes later it was 3-1, Beckham involved again with a freekick that Helguera touched on for van Nistelrooy to pounce on and beat Kahn from close range for his fifth goal of the competition and 52nd in his career.

Van Bommel delight:
In the 88th minute a loose ball fell to Van Bommel on the edge of the box and the Dutchman duly made no mistake to set up an enthralling second leg at the Fußball Arena München on 7 March.

Match highlights and goals: