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Villarreal Knocks Bayern Munich Out Of Champions League With Historic Upset

Villarreal — representing a city of just 50,577 in Spain's Castellón province — has clinched its first UEFA Champions League semifinal appearance since that magical 2006 run after a stunning upset of six-time champion Bayern Munich at Allianz Arena on Tuesday.

Leading 1-0 after an impressive first leg performance at La Cerámica that could've presented the Yellow Submarine with an even bigger advantage heading to Bavaria, Unai Emery had to implement another masterplan with Bayern certain to score at least one at home. 

In the Round of 16, Villarreal knocked off Juventus in Turin by rarely venturing outside of its own half until a 78th-minute penalty changed everything, but that same approach seemed like suicide against Robert Lewandowski, Leroy Sané and Thomas Müller.

Villarreal did attempt to make the most of its possession in the match's opening period, but Bayern's influence and pressure began to grow extreme by the half-hour.

It was fascinating watching Villarreal put all 10 outfield players behind the ball — completing forgoing the option of an outlet — to deal with these periods, but Emery clearly acknowledged that Villarreal would never survive such a sustained onslaught. 

Villarreal carefully chose its moments to push higher up the pitch and look for the outlet of Arnaut Danjuma. Goal kicks were one such instance when the Yellow Submarine was continuously employing this tactic, so it must've been maddening for Emery to see that transformed into Bayern's lifeline in the 52nd minute.

Instead of going direct, an attempt to build from the back amounted to a turnover inside Villarreal's own half. Bayern went straight back at them with Müller feeding Lewandowski for a right-footed finish that was fired through the legs of Pau Torres, off the post and in. 

But no other Bayern player possessed that sharpness in front of goal over the two legs. Müller, hugely disappointing in the first leg, put a free header wide. Both Kingsley Coman and Leon Goretzka put three shots off target each. That quality we so freely associate with the German champions just wasn't there.

Alphonso Davies entered in the 87th minute to presumably terrorize Villarreal in extra time, but the Canadian's first action was watching the visitors turn defense into attack with three killer passes.

After the Yellow Submarine cleared a Bayern cross, Dani Parejo took possession on the edge of his own area and sucked three defenders into his orbit before calmly picking out Giovani Lo Celso. The Argentine rode a challenge in midfield and slipped through Gerard Moreno, perfectly level with Bayern's defensive line, and the Spanish striker in turn picked out Samuel Chukwueze, also perfectly level.

The roofed finish over Manuel Neuer wasn't bad either. What a counter. 

Bayern never came close to generating a response and went crashing out.

After the match, Müller said Bayern "should have gone through convincingly" and that the result was "difficult" to accept. Moreno wasn't having that. 

"We feel a lot of happiness," he said. "Ever since the draw paired us with Bayern, we have been telling ourselves that we could do it. The belief and the way this team competes has helped us to achieve it. In the first leg we made the mistake of not finishing the tie, and all the comments serve as motivation for us. They made the mistake today of not killing us off and we took advantage of that. What this team has done is great."

Villarreal awaits the winner of Liverpool-Benfica (currently 3-1) in the semifinals. Villarreal and Liverpool previously met in the semifinals of the 2015-16 Europa League with Liverpool winning 3-1 on aggregate. 

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