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Bayern’s Franck Ribery fights for the ball with Real’s Gareth Bale during the Champions League semifinal second leg soccer match between Bayern Munich and Real Madrid at the Allianz Arena in Munich, southern Germany on April 29. (AP)
Real tear Bayern apart to reach final Ronaldo sets record

MUNICH, April 29, (RTRS): Real Madrid tore apart Bayern Munich’s ragged defence apart with a ruthless first-half display as they thrashed the defending champions 4-0 in their own stadium to reach their first Champions League final for 12 years on Tuesday. Two Sergio Ramos headers put Real 2-0 ahead after 20 minutes and Cristiano Ronaldo added the third and fourth in the semi-final second leg. Ronaldo made it 3-0 from a superb break before halftime with his 15th goal of the competition, a record for a single season, and then added the fourth in the 90th. Bayern, treble winners last season, were never in the hunt as they slumped to a 5-0 aggregate defeat which will leave a huge stain on coach Pep Guardiola’s previously enviable record in the competition.

Meanwhile,big-spending Manchester City and Paris St-Germain have been given the chance to settle breaches of UEFA’s financial fair play (FFP) rules that will leave them free to play in next season’s Champions League. UEFA’s club financial control board has offered settlement deals in recent weeks to teams deemed to have broken rules designed to rein in reckless spending and make soccer more stable economically. The panel will meet on Thursday to consider responses by the fewer than 20 teams affected and its decisions will be announced over the next few days, a source close to the process said. The likely sanctions range from a reprimand, to a fine or a cap on squad size for European competition for next season. UEFA has the power to ban teams from European competition if their losses exceed its limits but is expected to shy away from imposing that heaviest punishment at this stage. If the sanctions are not tough enough, rival clubs are likely to complain that offenders are being let off with a slap on the wrist and that the much-vaunted process has been a sham.

Clubs that fail to agree a settlement at this stage will have their cases settled by an adjudicatory panel. Having spent heavily to compete with the best teams in Europe in recent seasons, Manchester City and PSG appeared most at risk of falling foul of the rules. City, in the running for their second Premier League title in three years, have been bankrolled by cash from Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour while PSG have been lavishly funded by their Qatari owners and now dominate French soccer. UEFA spokesman David Farrelly declined to comment on the reports at this stage. City and PSG were unavailable for comment. The rules are being introduced to force clubs to live within their means and prevent those with rich owners from simply spending their way to success.

In February, UEFA secretary general Gianni Infantino said 76 European clubs out of 237 originally assessed had been asked to submit additional information about their finances ahead of the new rules which come into full effect next season. The headline numbers limit club losses to 45 million euros ($62.30 million) over the past two seasons but there are various exemptions for spending on youth development, stadium infrastructure and older contracts.

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