Written by on May 10, 2024

Written by: Floyd Nkanyane

The script had been written. Bayern Munich were leaving the Bernabéu with their heads held high after Alphonso Davies’ moment of magic. But this is the Champions League knockout stages – where the wildest of dreams can become nightmares in a heartbeat.

Just ask Manuel Neuer, a man whose reputation for big-game brilliance took a sickening blow on a dramatic night in Madrid. With Real trailing to Davies’ sublime curler, up stepped unheralded super sub Joselu to leave the great German goalkeeper red-faced not once, but twice.

First, the former Stoke City flop took advantage of an unfathomable error from Neuer, who inexplicably allowed Vinicius Jr’s tame shot to squirm through his grasp in the 88th minute. The Bernabéu erupted as Joselu gleefully turned home the rebound to seemingly force extra time.

But the unimaginable drama had only just begun. Three minutes later, a comedy of errors at the back for the shell-shocked Bavarians saw Joselu arrive again at the far post to turn home Antonio Rudiger’s driven cross and send Real’s fans into delirium.

As the home supporters raised the roof, there was still one final twist. Twelve minutes into an interminable added time period, a potential Bayern equalizer seemed to cross the line before the assistant’s raised flag belatedly cut the celebration short – with no VAR review following to add yet more controversy.

When the dust settles, all that will be remembered is Joselu’s stunning impact off the bench to shatter Bayern’s hopes and book Real’s place in the Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley on June 1st. A night no one who witnessed it will ever forget.

As the final whistle blew, Neuer’s crestfallen figure told you everything about missed opportunities and fine margins at the highest level. For Joselu, an unlikely hero had emerged to create another chapter in Real Madrid’s fabled European history.

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