Bayern Munich had another nervous Champions League trip to Portugal, but this time they got the result they needed. They drew 2-2 with Benfica to advance to their fifth straight Champions League semifinals.
Pep Guardiola's plan from the get-go was clear: take care of the ball and win the ball back quickly when they did not have it. His midfield executed the plan perfectly; Douglas Costa tracked back to poke balls away from Mehdi Carcela-Gonzalez, and Arturo Vidal and Thiago Alcantara even combined to win a ball away from Ljubomir Fejsa. Everything seemed to be going to plan, until one long ball chanced the playing field.
Moving forward quickly, Eliseu played a ball over the top to Raul Jiménez, and the Benfica forward split Javi Martinez and David Alaba before heading a ball past the on-coming Manuel Neuer. The tie was suddenly back even, and a shiver of fear looked to be going the spine of the Bayern players. Jiménez almost put the tie in Benfica's favor minutes later, Eduardo Salvio crossing in a ball neither Alaba nor Joshua Kimmich could slide away, but the surprising chance took way his conviction and Neuer handled the ball into his arms.
Bayern stuck to their plan though, using the over lap of Philipp Lahm on Douglas Costa to create space on the right. The tactic was already creating positive results; if Lahm did not cross the ball towards Müller, he cut the ball back to Thiago or Douglas, who would try to pop the ball over an adjusting Benfica defense. One of the balls towards Müller lead to something, even though Ederson paraded the cross from Lahm away from the on-coming Bayern forward. With the defense focused on stopping Müller from getting the ball, Arturo Vidal fired into a wide open net, getting Bayern the away goal they need.
The German champions were back in the drivers seat, and their first-half momentum played into the second half. Just seven minutes after play restarted, Javi Martinez headed a Ribéry corner back to the near post, where Müller stretched to tap the ball in. The goal – Bayern's fifth from a set-piece situation this season – gave the visitors their second away goal, giving the hosts a three-goal mountain to climb.
That climb became much easier once Talisca came on. The attacker was not only a fresh set of legs Benfica could counter-attack with, but was also the player who found the second equalizer of the game. Javi Martinez fouled Salvio just out side the area – receiving a yellow card that could have arguably been a red for denying a goal scoring opportunity – and Talisca stepped up to fire in a free kick even Neuer could not defend. Benfica still had two goals to go, but Bayern began to press even harder to ensure the tie remained in their hands. Talisca got another opportunity from a free kick not long before full time, but fired his effort wide of the far post.
With Benfica relentless, Bayern had to see out tie tie the best they could. Guardiola waited until the 83rd minute to bring on his first substitution, replacing Müller with Robert Lewandowski. Juan Bernat and Mario Götze followed just before time, but Benfica kept coming. Luka Jović, an 18-year-old forward who was Benfica's last substitution of the game – got the final chance, firing a shot into Neuer's arms as the last kick of the game
Though they failed to win the game – Bayern failed to win away from home in the Champions League knockout stages for the eight-consecutive tie – they got the result they needed to advance. Bayern now await either Manchester City, Real Madrid or Atlético Madrid in the semifinal as they continue their quest to another treble.
Benfica (2-2) Bayern Munich
SLB: Raul Jiménez (27'), Talisca (77')
FCB: Arturo Vidal (38'), Thomas Müller (52")
Benfica XI (4-2-3-1): Ederson – André Almeida, Lindelöf, Jardel, Eliseu (Jović 88') – Fejsa, Renato Sanches – Salvio (Talisca 68'), Pizzi (Goncalo Guedes 58'), Carcela-Gonzalez – Raul Jimenez
Bayern XI (4-3-3): Neuer – Lahm, Kimmich, Martínez, Alaba – Vidal, Alonso (Bernat 90'), Thiago – Douglas, Müller (Lewandowski 83'), Ribéry (Götze 90+2')