MUNICH, April 22 -Pep Guardiola admitted feeling the love for his Bayern Munich players after their ‘miraculous’ 6-1 romp against ten-man Porto on Tuesday put them in the Champions League semi-finals.
Having needed to overturn a two-goal deficit after last Wednesday’s shock 3-1 first-leg defeat at Porto, Bayern produced a devastating first-half display to claim five goals to win the quarter-final tie 7-4 on aggregate.
Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told reporters: “We have seen something miraculous” after Bayern became the first side to score five goals in the opening 45 minutes of a Champions League’s knock-out game.
“At this moment, it’s easy to love my players,” beamed Guardiola. We played very differently to the first leg. We couldn’t have achieved what we have without a fight.”
“Many thanks to my players: they have made me very happy.”
The excitement at the Allianz Arena clearly got to Guardiola who ended up splitting his trousers while screaming sideline instructions.
“Ah, they broke. It’s not so bad, I’ll just put on a new pair for the next game,” grinned the Spaniard.
Robert Lewandowski scored twice, and now has 22 goals in all competitions, while Thomas Mueller, Jerome Boateng and Thiago Alcantara also grabbed first-half goals.
“Many people thought we couldn’t do it, but we are FC Bayern Munich,” said Lewandowski.
“We knew we had to step on the gas, but to go five goals up at half-time is really crazy.”
Mueller is now Germany’s top scorer in Champions League history as he scored his 27th European goal.
“It couldn’t have gone better. beamed Mueller. Sometimes it’s fun to play with your backs against the wall. We all had hopes, but no one expected that.”
Porto captain Jackson Martinez scored a consolation goal when the tempo dropped in the second half, but the guests finished with ten men when defender Ivan Marcano received a second yellow card.
Bayern’s Xabi Alonso crashed home the resulting free-kick on 88 minutes to complete the rout while Porto’s coach Julen Lopetegui was sent from the touchline in the dying stages.
Bayern are in the last four of Europe for the fourth year running.
They can pick up their first silverware of the season on Saturday if they beat Hertha Berlin at home to claim their third straight Bundesliga title and are biding for the treble of European, cup and league titles.
– ‘It wasn’t perfect’ –
But Guardiola balked when asked if his side had produced 45 minutes of ‘perfect football’.
“No, it wasn’t perfect. It could have been better, Julen Lopetegui made changes at the break and it was dangerous in the second-half,” said the Spaniard.
“You can’t afford to take a nap or switch off in a Champions League game.
“Now I’m looking forward to sitting in front of the television and watching Friday’s draw.
“We have the chance to win the German league title on Saturday and then we have to prepare for the German Cup semi-final against Borussia Dortmumd.”
The scoreline matches Porto’s record away defeat in Europe when they lost 6-1 at AEK Athens in the defunct European Champion Clubs’ Cup in 1978.
After the heroics of their first-leg win, Porto were left to pick up the pieces ahead of Sunday’s key Portuguese league clash at Benfica with Lopetegui’s side trailing the leaders by just three points.
“The first half here in Munich cost us everything, we were punished and now we have to pick ourselves up again,” rued Lopetegui.
“Bayern are one of the world’s top teams and are amongst the favourites for the title.
“We managed to get back into the game in the second-half and could have made Bayern nervous if we had got a second to make it 5-2.
“When you look at the tie overall, Bayern deserved the win, but we showed what we can do in the first leg, but the first-half here was simply not good enough.”