Bayern through despite controversy

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FLORENCE, March 10 – Fiorentina president Andrea della Valle lashed out on Tuesday night as Bayern Munich advanced to the Champions League quarter-finals despite losing 3-2 to the Italians.The German side, who had won 2-1 in Munich, went through on the away goals’ rule after the aggregate scores finished 4-4.

But their victory was thanks to Miroslav Klose’s controversial 89th-minute goal in the last 16 first leg, which replays showed was yards offside.

"We’ve been eliminated thanks to the collusion of referee (Tom) Ovrebo in the away leg," della Valle complained bitterly.

"It’s tough to go out after winning 3-2 even without thinking about the first leg. But Florence can be proud of the way that Fiorentina played this evening."

Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli said the whole team was upset.

"It’s a great shame the goal from the first leg proved so important but my players should not feel frustrated," said Prandelli.

"Clearly we’re upset, but also proud of the team that won six out of eight games.

"They are working on becoming great players and games like this help. When playing at this level and defeating Bayern Munich, you have to be proud."

Bayern coach Louis Van Gaal could understand his rivals’ frustration.

"I can understand that it’s hard for Fiorentina because Klose’s off-side goal in the first leg proved decisive," he said.

After the late and controversial drama in Munich in the first leg, the match began tentatively with a string of misplaced passes as the sides struggled against a strong gale.

The home side went two goals up inside 54 minutes through Juan Vargas and Stevan Jovetic before Bayern captain Mark van Bommel’s strike on the hour mark began a flurry of superb goals.

Jovetic grabbed his second with a solo effort after 64 minutes but man-of-the-match Arjen Robben broke Viola hearts with a stunning 30-yard strike just a minute later.

Van Gaal admitted that he had had a "good feeling" about the game.

"I told the players at half-time that they needed to stay calm and have patience," he said.

"We played pretty well under the circumstances but we made too many individual mistakes. What saved us was that we continued to believe and we knew how to score two beautiful goals.

"We need to improve, but we are in the quarter-finals, and that’s the important thing."

Vargas tested Hans-Jorg Butt after five minutes with an audacious 40-yard free kick but it was the German side who settled better with Franck Ribery and particularly Robben causing danger down the wings.

Fiorentina, backed by a vociferous home support as well as the wind in the first half, had created little until the 28 minute when Marco Marchionni picked the ball up 30 yards out and instantly let fly.

A surprised Butt fumbled to Vargas who somehow outmuscled Daniel Van Buyten and, from a tight angle, found the top corner with his favoured left foot.

Bayern should have equalised six minutes later when Bastian Schweinsteiger’s deep header found its way through the heart of the Viola defence to Robben 15 yards out.

The Dutchman’s left foot shot was true but a flying Sebastian Frey threw himself backwards and brilliantly tipped the Dutchman’s shot onto the bar and over.

With Bayern needing a goal, the pace noticeably quickened after the break.

Alberto Gilardino had a glorious chance to double the lead five minutes back on the pitch but shot weakly eight yards out allowing Butt to save.

Marchionni had been getting plenty of the ball down the right and from another cross on 54 minutes Gilardino backheeled delightfully into the path of the onrunning Jovetic, who drilled home from 10 yards for 2-0. It set off a flurry of goals.

Ribery, largely anonymous until the hour mark, squared the ball for Mark van Bommel to fire unerringly into the corner from 20 yards for 2-1, to put the aggregate scores at 3-3.

Four minutes later though and Fiorentina were ahead again.

The dangerous Jovetic began a run from deep, played a one-two with Gilardino before shrugging off the ineffectual Van Buyten and slipping the ball expertly under Butt for a superb solo goal.

Robben matched the skill after 65 minutes. As brilliant as he had been in the first leg, the Dutchman cut in from the right and let fly from 25 yards, arrowing the ball into the top corner to break Italian hearts.

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