Bayern Munich 3-0 Lyon
There was a time, not so long ago, when Serge Gnabry could not get into the Arsenal first team.
In fact, at one stage, it looked like he would become just the latest player to emerge from the Gunners’ ranks over the last decade or so and not fulfil his initial promise.
His double here secured victory in the Champions League to finally end spirited Lyon’s battling run.
How wrong he has proved its critics this season as he has played a starring role in the success of Bayern Munich, at home and abroad, who are now 90 minutes away from a superb treble.
Highlights of the game
Before tonight, Bayern had brushed aside all they had faced in Europe this season, winning all nine of their matches to date at an aggregate score of 39-8.
That now stands at 42-8!
Indeed, their record in all competitions since losing to Borussia Monchengladbach in early December last year reads: played 29, won 28, drawn one.
Lyon, the surprise package of this season’s competition, were left to rue two early openings as Memphis Depay shot wide after running clear before Karl Toko Ekambi struck the post from close range after cutting in from the right.
It was to prove costly as Gnabry struck twice in quarter of an hour.
The opener was all about technique, confidence and pace as he fired in a stunning shot – one for the 2019/20 Champions League highlights compilation.
When he added a second, just past the half hour mark, tapping home after Anthony Lopes had gallantly blocked Robert Lewandowski’s scuffed effort from close range, Lyon had a mountain to climb.
Any hope of overcoming the deficit seemed to disappear when Ekambi failed to find the net again soon afterwards.
It was no surprise that the final word belonged to Lewandowski who added a third late on, netting for the ninth European game in a row with a header – his 15th in the competition this season.
It also meant Bayern’s run of four successive Champions League semi-final defeats was over.
After eliminating both the Italian champions and Premier League runners-up Manchester City in the knockout stages, this was one game too many for Lyon who have proved themselves to be much better than the seventh place side in Lique 1 – the position they found themselves in when the French football authorities decided to curtail the domestic campaign.
Their trickiest job this summer may now be trying to keep hold of Moussa Dembele and Depay – with 37 goals between them in all competitions – as there is no European football for the club next season.
But back to Bayern.
Before Covid, I tipped them as favourites to win the competition with their opponents in the final a close second. That they now meet in Europe’s biggest club game and probably the biggest game in world football, even bigger than the World Cup, is no surprise.
The question is, can they become European champions for the first time in seven years?
Bayern have now reached their 11th European Cup/Champions League final, equalling AC Milan’s record. Only Real Madrid have reached the final more often (16 times).
The Bavarians have also equalled the longest winning run in Champions League history – a run of 10 set by themselves in November 2013 and Real Madrid in 2015.
Lewandowski (15) has now scored more goals in this season’s tournament than Lyon as a team (14).
Gnabry’s double also means he now has nine Champions League goals this season, has eight in his last eight matches in the competition and has been directly involved in six goals in his last four.
He is second in the scoring charts only to Lewandowski, who has 55 goals in 46 games and has become only the second player to score 15 or more Champions League goals in a single campaign after Cristiano Ronaldo (who has managed it on three occasions).
Only Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2003 (9) and Ronaldo in 2018 (11) have scored as many or more in successive matches in the competition’s history than the Polish frontman.
This was the first time in the history of the Champions League that two sides had met in a semi-final after replacing their manager mid-season.
The SBOBET Champions League betting odds will be intriguing for Sunday’s final as the season finally ends with another German-Franco clash in the biggest match in the football calendar.
Paris Saint-Germain await in the 2020 Champions League Final.
CHECK OUT OUR BLOG FOR MORE FOOTBALL STORIES & ODDS
Stay updated with everything sports and betting.