Bayern catch Porto in a storm
Bayern Munich 6 Porto 1: Bayern win 7-4 on agg
Published 22/04/2015 | 02:30
It was the night that his reputation was on the line, a crossroads in his glittering managerial career, but at the end of it, the only thing coming apart at the seams in Pep Guardiola's world were his trousers.
Serious questions were being asked of Bayern Munich's coach following his team's 3-1 Champions League quarter-final defeat against Porto last week, to the extent that Manchester City's director of football Txiki Begiristain attended this second-leg, perhaps in the hope that the former Barcelona coach would suffer the career low-point that could set him on course for the Etihad Stadium.
But Guardiola's Bayern were simply majestic, brutally disposing of Porto with a first-half mauling that saw the Germans lead 5-0 at the interval.
When the fifth went in, Guardiola was seen shouting "Wow!" on the touchline, such was the style of his team's fightback.
And in the excitement, Guardiola's skin-hugging trousers split, leaving a gaping hole in his left leg, but it could have been worse had Porto not gone the same way as his expensive grey threads.
Although Bayern had emerged as victors from their two previous quarter-final meetings with Porto - in 1991 and 2000 - scars remain in Bavaria as a result of the 1987 European Cup final defeat against the Portuguese team in Vienna.
Two late Porto goals that night denied Bayern their fourth European Cup, so last Wednesday's first-leg defeat in Estadio do Dragao would have reopened the old wounds and served as a reminder of the perils of under-estimating any opponent.
Trailing 3-1, Bayern could not allow complacency to creep into their minds for this game, despite pre-match claims by forward Thomas Muller that the required 2-0 win "wouldn't be a miracle, would it?" Perhaps not, but a mural formed by the Bayern supporters prior to kickoff bearing the message "Niemals Aufgeben" ("Never Give Up") suggested that not everyone was quite as relaxed as Muller.
The statistics were firmly in Bayern's favour, however, notwithstanding Porto's unbeaten record away from home in the Champions League this season.
Guardiola's team had scored 13 goals in four home games prior to this fixture, with seven coming against ten-man Shakhtar Donetsk in the previous round, while Bayern were also targeting a fourth successive semi-final appearance.
Porto had not progressed beyond this stage since an emerging coach by the name of Jose Mourinho guided them to Champions League glory in 2004, but with the scoreboard showing Bayern to be 3-0 ahead by the half hour stage, even Mourinho would have been hard pressed to prevent this kind of rout.
Julen Lopetegui's team, currently second in Portugal's Primeira Liga, began well enough, with full-back Diego Reyes subjecting Mario Gotze to the kind of crunching tackle which delivered a clear message of Porto's intent to fight for their place in the last four.
Robert Lewandowski also felt the full force of Porto's robust defending, but once the Pole rattled the post on ten minutes, after Muller's effort had been palmed away by goalkeeper Fabiano, Bayern sensed anxiety and tension among the visitors and they took advantage ruthlessly.
Five goals in the space of twenty-six first-half minutes left Porto staggering like a punch-drunk boxer praying for his corner to throw in the towel.
The opening goal came on fourteen minutes when Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara outjumped his marker at the neat post to convert Juan Bernat's cross with a bullet header.
Eight minutes later, another goal and another header, this time from former Manchester City centre-half Jerome Boateng, who levelled the tie on aggregate with his goal. By this stage, Porto had begun to struggle to escape their own half, with Bayern crushing any hope of a breakaway with their determination to seize the ball and send it back to the Porto's penalty area.
And on 27 minutes, Lewandowski put Bayern ahead on aggregate for the first time in the tie when he stooped to convert Muller's pass from close range.
Lopetegui, desperate to inspire some kind of resistance, withdrew Torres on 31 minutes and replaced the defender with Ricardo, but it made no difference with Bayern continuing to bully his team into submission.
When Muller made it 4-0, with a deflected shot from 25 yards which should certainly have been stopped on 36 minutes, the game was clearly safe for Bayern, but there was no sense of showing their opponents any mercy.
On they rolled and, four minutes later, Lewandowski made it 5-0 with a close range strike after once again being teed up by Muller.
Having hit Shakhtar and Roma for seven already this season, Bayern returned to their dressing-room to a standing ovation at half-time, with the Allianz Arena no doubt keen to witness another rout.
Porto, meanwhile, may just have considered heading straight to the team bus and forfeiting the second-half.
In terms of a humiliation being meted out by an opponent at its supreme peak, this was akin to Germany's 7-1 World Cup semi-final destruction of Brazil in Belo Horizonte.
Just as in this game, Muller was an architect of Brazil's downfall, with Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng and Philipp Lahm also experiencing some sense of deja vu.
Despite Gotze shooting narrowly wide inside the opening minute of the second-half, Bayern seemed to adhere to football's unwritten rule of not wilfully embarrassing an opponent as they eased off in the final 45 minutes Porto continued to be pressed back, but the intensity in Bayern's game was not quite the same and when Jackson Martinez pulled one back for the visitors on 73 minutes, there was an element of pity about it.
But Bayern, and Guardiola, had already made their point and Xabi Alonso's late free-kick, which made it 6-1 after Ivan Marcano's red card, hammered it home. (© Daily Telegraph, London)