Team: FC Bayern München
We had a break from Bayern last week, but they are back for a third time in four editions. Even considering Borussia Dortmund's heroics 24 hours later, how could they not be? Jupp Heynckes' side were simply majestic as they destroyed FC Barcelona 4-0 – a record UEFA Champions League semi-final win.
"Things could be worse," smiled Thomas Müller, while fellow goalscorer Arjen Robben spoke of his disbelief. Both were smiling from ear to ear, while at home millions sat open-mouthed, staring in wondrous disbelief deep into the night. 'Mega-Bayern', screamed the headline in Bild – unsubtle, but accurate.
Player: Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund)
"I've never seen such a great goal as 'Lewy's' third – that was absolutely amazing." Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp led the plaudits which rained down on the Poland striker after he became the first player to score four goals in a European semi-final match. His third in the Schwarzgelben's 4-1 first-leg win against Real Madrid CF was the pick of his 'poker'. Controlling Marcel Schmelzer's low cross, the 24-year-old left Pepe trailing in his wake after a neat drag-back and hammered a shot high into the roof of the net. Cue pandemonium at the BVB Stadion Dortmund.
Goal: Lima (SL Benfica)
The celebrations said it all. Red shirts surged to the sidelines, where they were greeted by substitutes, coaching staff and a roar of approval. It seemed a bit excessive, given that Benfica were already 1-0 up and there were still 15 minutes remaining – even if it was against city rivals Sporting Clube de Portugal. Yet the goal deserved nothing less.
Nicolás Gaitán was at the heart of it, receiving possession, pirouetting between two defenders, the ball at his command. He played a one-two with Eduardo Salvio, then volleyed towards the penalty spot, where Lima applied an acrobatic finish. "Lima did the difficult bit," said Gaitán. The fact that the Argentinian was the player everyone ran to afterwards suggested otherwise.
Robin van Persie's move to Manchester United FC rather than Manchester City FC last summer has been identified as the difference between the sides this term. He underlined his importance with a scintillating first-half hat-trick against Aston Villa FC on Monday. His second, a magnificent volley, was worthy of a prize itself and effectively sealed United's 20th title – and the Dutchman's first. "I had to wait a long time," he said afterwards. Sir Alex Ferguson drew parallels with Eric Cantona, and the embrace between the pair on the Old Trafford pitch felt meaningful.
"I myself scored four goals once before. That was in 1990 against [FC Rot-Weiss] Erfurt [now a third-tier side]. It is very high in my personal achievements and I will certainly not forget it. One of those was similarly brilliant to Lewandowski's … You can all look it up on the internet."
Dortmund coach Klopp playfully shares the limelight with his star striker
Milestone: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF)
The one ray of light on an otherwise gloomy night for the Merengues was Ronaldo's first-half equaliser, his 50th goal in the UEFA Champions League. Madrid's No7 is the fifth person to reach the mark – and the third fastest, having achieved the feat in 91 games.
Opportunist: Cleiton Xavier (FC Metalist Kharkiv)
Cleiton scored one of the most unexpected goals of the season on Sunday. FC Chornomorets Odesa had just returned to their half after celebrating a goal of their own and were preparing for kick-off. However, visiting goalkeeper Dmytro Bezotosnyi still had his back turned. Metalist laid the ball off for Cleiton, and the Brazilian midfielder struck a splendid first-time effort from the halfway line which sailed into the net.
"I have never scored such a goal in my life," he said. "I believe it's one of the most beautiful goals of my career. I saw the goalkeeper was out so I decided to take a quick shot."
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