Bayern Munich placed one foot in the last four of the Champions League as Thiago Alcantara’s header gave them a 2-1 win away to Sevilla on Tuesday in the first leg of their quarter-final in Spain.
Sevilla had knocked out Manchester United in the last 16 and another shock looked on the cards when Pablo Sarabia struck from close range in the first half at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
But Bayern’s nous, and a little luck, proved decisive, as Jesus Navas diverted Franck Ribery’s cross into his own net before Thiago headed in a winner, also deflected, in the second half.
The result leaves Sevilla with a mountain to climb. The Spanish side will need to score at least twice in next week’s second leg at the Allianz Arena to have any hope of reaching the last four.
Their coach Vincenzo Montella had pointed out on Monday how his side has “already made history” by appearing in their first quarter-final of the Champions League era, but their season is in danger of fizzling out before the end of the month.
Adrift of the top four in La Liga, they will take on Barcelona in the Copa del Rey final, 10 days after facing Bayern in the second leg.
“First of all we have not had much luck,” Montella said. “The team deserved something more tonight, at least a draw.”
Bayern, meanwhile, are strong favourites to reach their sixth Champions League semi-final in seven years. On this evidence they look to be genuine contenders to become European champions for a sixth time.
“Sevilla had scoring opportunities,” Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said. “Psychologically it was very important to pull level at half-time, so we could talk about what happened and talk about other aspects and after we took the reins of the game.”