Bayern Munich is left seeing red in victory
Even when he is at the top of his game and in the best of moods, Franck Ribery looks angry.
On Wednesday, the intense and volatile Frenchman had reason to be furious — even after his German team, Bayern Munich, had defeated Olympique Lyon of France, 1-0, in the semifinals of the European Champions League.
Ribery had only himself to blame, however, for the fact that he will sit out the decisive second leg in Lyon on Tuesday. A rash and ugly challenge on Lyon’s Argentine striker, Lisandro Lopez, resulted in Ribery being tossed out of the game at a sold-out Allianz Arena in Munich.
The French winger went in hard, over the top of the ball, and drove his studs into Lopez’s shin and ankle. Referee Roberto Rosetti immediately reached for the red card, and Ribery was on his way to an early shower.
The crowd of 68,000 was as angry as Ribery at the call, justified though it was, but the fans and Ribery were in a better frame of mind by the final whistle after another wonder goal by Dutch winger Arjen Robben had given Bayern the victory.
In any event, Bayern’s one-man advantage lasted only the last eight minutes of the first half and the first nine minutes of the second, at which point both teams were at 10 men after Lyon midfielder Jeremy Toulalan — Ribery’s teammate on the French national team — was ejected after picking up two yellow cards in quick succession.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Bayern’s chairman, said he hoped the ejection would not cause Ribery to sit out the final, should Bayern qualify.
"[We] have got to accept it and hope UEFA are not too harsh on him so that he could be in the final and that the ban reflects the incident,” he said.
The all-important goal came in the 69th minute when Robben fired in a left-foot shot from about 25 yards.
As recently as Saturday, the Dutchman had underlined his goal-scoring form with a hat trick as Bayern Munich thrashed Hannover 96, 7-0, in a Bundesliga game in the same stadium. His latest goal has put Bayern on the threshold of the Champions League final.
The four-time European champions have not won the competition since 2001, but now even a tie in Lyon would send Bayern Munich through to the May 22 final in Madrid.
There, the competition will consist of either Inter Milan or defending champion Barcelona. The Italian team holds a 3-1 advantage in its semifinal series going into the April 28 second leg in Spain.
Bayern Munich could very easily have scored three or four goals Wednesday but for some glaring misses as the German league leaders outshot Lyon, 19-8.
With Robben and teammate Philipp Lahm in scintillating form, the German league leader was clearly the better side.
“Robben is unpredictable; a gifted player with awesome technical skills,” Lyon defender Aly Cissokho said.
Lyon had knocked out Real Madrid en route to the semifinals, but the closest Coach Claude Puel’s team came to scoring Wednesday was just before halftime when Kim Kallström hammered a half volley that goalkeeper Jorg Butt did exceptionally well to deflect wide.
Midfielder Anthony Reveillere said Lyon appeared a bit tired.
“We were not in peak condition,” he said. “We held them in the first half, but in the second half we had nothing left in our legs to score that away goal. I think our journey took its toll.”
Because volcanic eruptions in Iceland have restricted air travel in Europe, Lyon was forced to make a 10-hour road journey to Munich for the game, breaking the trip with an overnight stay in Stuttgart, Germany.
Jones reported from Los Angeles
Times wire services contributed to this report.