Ivica Olic’s hat trick lifts Bayern Munich
Last May, Bayern Munich dipped into its coffers and handed VfB Stuttgart something north of $40 million for German national team forward Mario Gomez.
In August, the Bavarian club again reached deep to come up with $33 million to acquire Dutch national winger Arjen van Robben from Real Madrid. And, in July, Croatian national team striker Ivica Olic quietly slipped in the door at Bayern’s Allianz Arena and made himself right at home.
On Tuesday, in a scintillating performance, Olic, 30, scored all three goals as Bayern Munich clinched its place in the May 22 European Champions League final with a 3-0 demolition of Olympique Lyon in France.
Olic scored one goal with his right foot, one with his left foot and one with his head, making it the perfect hat trick. The three goals brought his Champions League haul to seven goals in nine games this season, second only to Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.
All of which is not bad for a player that Bayern Munich picked up for nothing on a free transfer from fellow Bundesliga club Hamburg.
Tuesday’s win gave Bayern Munich a 4-0 aggregate victory in the two legs of the semifinal. In the final in Madrid, Coach Louis van Gaal’s team will play the winner of Wednesday’s other semifinal between defending champion Barcelona and Inter Milan.
Van Gaal won the Champions League as coach of Ajax Amsterdam in 1995 and later coached Barcelona.
“I would prefer to play Inter,” Van Gaal joked Tuesday. “That way I could have a press conference with my friend Jose Mourinho.”
Mourinho, Inter Milan’s coach, holds a 3-1 first-leg advantage going into Wednesday’s second leg in Spain, but Barcelona, the defending champion, is quite capable of turning that around, and Van Gaal knows it.
“Nine times out of 10, Barca would win,” he said, “but we could win one game.”
Especially if Robben and Olic continue showing the form they have displayed throughout the competition. On Tuesday, it was Olic’s turn to shine, and he scored in the 26th, 67th and 78th minutes.
“Scoring three goals in such a game is outstanding,” Olic said.
“He’s unbelievable,” Robben said Tuesday. “What I like about him is that he always gives more than 100% in every game. He keeps running and sometimes you have to stop him. He’s so energetic, a great player and very important for us.”
The French team had come into the game trailing by only a goal and hoping that its unbeaten record at home in the competition and the support of its fans at the Stade de Gerland would turn the tide.
But Olic’s first goal all but put paid to those hopes, and Lyon had to bow to the inevitable when its Brazilian defender and captain, Cris, picked up two yellow cards in succession in the 59th minute and was ejected.
Lyon was taking part in the semifinals of Europe’s premier club competition for the first time, but its 2010 campaign will be remembered for one highlight. Olympique Lyon was the team that knocked high-priced Real Madrid out of the competition in a year when the final will be played in Madrid.
On Tuesday, however, it was clearly second best to a Bayern Munich team that will be seeking its fifth European title in its eighth final.
Jones reported from Los Angeles.
Times wire services contributed to this report.