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Friday, April 23, 2010

Robben gives Bayern slight edge

MUNICH (AP) Arjen Robben scored a second-half winner as Bayern Munich beat Lyon 1-0 in the first leg of a Champions League semifinal on Wednesday which both sides finished with 10 men.

News photo
Hang on a minute: Bayern's Arjen Robben (left) and Olympique Lyon's Jeremy Toulalan vie for the ball in Champions League action on Wednesday night. Bayern won the semifinal first leg 1-0. AP PHOTO

Robben found the net in the 69th minute with a shot that took a slight deflection off teammate Thomas Mueller.

Earlier, Bayern's star winger Franck Ribery was sent off in the 37th minute for a challenge on Lisandro and Lyon defender Jeremy Toulalan went off with his second booking in the 54th.

"We still have a tough evening in Lyon, nothing is decided yet," Robben said. "We only have a small advantage.

"We have a strong character. We just keep going. Tonight we fought for 90 minutes, even though it was tough for a while playing 10 against 11. 0-0 was not a good result so we all said we had to give another 10-20 percent. And we did that. In the second half we played better and were the better team."

Bayern had more chances throughout the match, while Lyon relied on rare counterattacks and created few threats. However, Lyon traveled to the match by road over two days because of the suspension in air traffic following the eruption of a volcano in Iceland.

"I am not looking for excuses," Lyon coach Claude Puel said. "They put us under a lot of pressure from the start and we lost possession too quickly. Had we kept our man advantage, it may have been a different game.

"I could live with a loss, but I wish we'd scored."

The result was one of the outcomes Bayern had been wishing for, with Lyon failing to score an important away goal. In the other semifinal, Inter Milan beat defending champion Barcelona 3-1 on Tuesday.

"I am very pleased," Bayern coach Louis van Gaal said. "We created a lot of chances but we scored only once. I think we've shown the whole of Europe how strong we are, even with 10 against 11 we were the stronger team.

"We did not concede and we normally score away so Lyon will have to score three to advance and we don't concede three goals that often."

Robben, who has scored several decisive goals for Bayern this season, cut inside from the right flank and sent a shot that took a slight deflection off Mueller and slipped under goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Mueller ducked in an attempt to stay out of the way but the slight deflection was enough to catch Lloris on the wrong foot.

Ribery was sent off for a challenge on Lisandro after losing the ball. Ribery stepped on Lisandro's ankle with his right foot, leaving the Argentine to be carried off the pitch. Lisandro returned a couple of minutes later to a barrage of boos from the partisan crowd.

Last week, Ribery provided testimony for investigators probing a suspected prostitution ring believed to have operated out of a Paris nightclub. Sophie Bottai, Ribery's lawyer, says no charges were filed against him and that he was not held in police custody.

Ribery will now automatically miss next week's second leg in Lyon. He still has not committed himself to a contract extension with Bayern.

"After his red card, I didn't think we would win 1-0," Van Gaal said. "I didn't think it was a red card but he stood on Lisandro's foot a bit too long."

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