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Gomez swoops at the death to hand Bayern slim advantage

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Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez reacts during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match against Real Madrid in Munich. Photo: Reuters

Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez reacts during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match against Real Madrid in Munich. Photo: Reuters

Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez reacts during their Champions League semi-final first leg soccer match against Real Madrid in Munich. Photo: Reuters

Real Madrid suffered the indignity of their shirts and boots being stolen from their dressing room prior to kick-off -- Cristiano Ronaldo lost three pairs -- and then faced further ignominy in losing this game.

Crucially, however, they nicked an away goal that will make them slight favourites to return to Bayern Munich's glorious arena for next month's final.

The records had shown Real struggle in Germany -- one victory in 22 matches and none in nine in this corner of Bavaria -- but they are the kind of statistics that fuel Jose Mourinho's instincts.

However, it did not go to plan for the Portuguese manager as Real fell a goal behind for the first time in Europe this season.

The circumstances were poor; the execution fine. Toni Kroos swung in a corner that Sergio Ramos made a hash of clearing. It fell to Franck Ribery, who drove a fierce shot into the net. Iker Casillas had no chance.

Mourinho would have been apoplectic. Not just because of the soft nature of the goal but also because, moments earlier, Ribery had escaped sanction from English referee Howard Webb for appearing to dive in search of a penalty when running at Ramos. That infuriated Real.

INSPIRED

It also inspired Bayern and the home side came closest to scoring again with a quick counter-attack leading to Mario Gomez forcing Casillas to push his angled shot over the bar.

There was soon another hugely important goal, with Real claiming an equaliser. They broke quickly and Manuel Neuer saved from Ronaldo, after he was sent clear on goal, only for Benzema to retrieve the ball and find the Portuguese again with a cross-shot. Ronaldo clipped the ball back and it was volleyed in by Ozil to change the complexion of the encounter.

It appeared Bayern might be swamped, with Benzema teed up again, but they rallied with Pepe having to react strongly to deny Gomez as he threatened to run through, while Webb, who had been reluctant to caution, was suddenly producing a series of yellow cards for cynical challenges.

It was Bayern applying the pressure, with Gomez wastefully stabbing over after Ramos' fluffed clearance.

It became increasingly, desperately frantic, with Ribery screaming for a handball and a penalty, and then Gomez going over with more demands for a spot-kick. Finally the breakthrough came, with Philipp Lahm crossing and, this time, Gomez sweeping it home.

Telegraph.co.uk