Van Gaal hails Bayern's team effort

LYON, France, April 28, 2010 (AFP) - Bayern Munich coach Louis van Gaal saluted a masterful team effort after his side's convincing 3-0 victory over Lyon swept them into the Champions League final on Tuesday.

A hat-trick from Ivica Olic secured a 4-0 aggregate win, which was the biggest winning margin in a Champions League semi-final since Juventus beat van Gaal's Ajax 6-2 in the 1996-97 competition.

Despite Olic's headline-grabbing performance, his coach insisted the credit for the victory deserved to be shared among all his players.

Bayern Munich's Dutch striker Arjen Robben and Olympique Lyonnais' French defender Jean-Alain Boumsong (R) during the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final football match Olympique Lyonnais vs Bayern Munich at the stade Gerland in Lyon, on April 27, 2010. Bayern Munich won 0-3. AFP PHOTO

"Olic scored three goals, but he also pressed them very high and his positioning and organisation were great," said van Gaal.

"He scored three goals, but only because he was the nearest player to the goal."

The margin of Bayern's victory reflected their superiority over both legs and van Gaal was satisfied by his side's management of the tie.

"We played a great match," said the Dutchman, who will now seek to become only the third coach after Ernst Happel and Ottmar Hitzfeld to lead two different sides to European Cup glory.

"We were well-positioned in attack as well as defence. If we play like that until the end we will be very hard to beat. We only gave them two chances, which they couldn't take. I am very proud of my team."

With his side 1-0 down after the first leg, Lyon coach Claude Puel sent his men out in an attacking 4-2-3-1 that restored wingers Michel Bastos and Sidney Govou to the line-up in support of lone striker Lisandro Lopez.

They carved out few clear chances, though, with Bastos and Bafetimbi Gomis spurning the best of them by volleying off-target.

Van Gaal said he had anticipated Lyon's change of approach.

"I expected Lyon would play in another way," he said.

"I read the papers. They didn't play very well in Munich (in the first leg), so it's natural that a coach will change his team.

"I expected that they would play with a number 10 (Cesar Delgado). My players were informed. We saw that our pressing in Munich was too much for them and we have also seen that today."

Bayern will contest the final with either Barcelona or Inter Milan, who lead 3-1 ahead of the resumption of their semi-final in Barcelona on Wednesday.

"Nine times out of 10, Barcelona would beat us, but we would still have our chances," said van Gaal. "We would prefer to play Inter. It would be good to do a press conference with my friend Jose Mourinho."

Puel conceded that his side had fallen to a stronger team.

"You simply have to congratulate their team, which was fantastic in lots of areas," he said.

"Their physicality, the quality of their play, their control of possession. They are a complete team. They are physically strong and never let their rhythm drop. It became very, very difficult for us.

"We had to produce a perfect match and it wasn't the case. We have to admit that tonight, Bayern were better."

Puel had urged his side to take the game to Bayern ahead of the match and he was left to lament the poor finishing that saw the French side spurn the few opportunities that came their way.

"We tried to take the game to them, to press them high and recover the ball so that we could put them under pressure," he said.

"The chances we did make we wasted because we wanted to finish things too quickly. We could have been more composed. It's a shame about the scoreline. It was a heavy defeat, largely because of what happened after Cris was sent off."

Lyon captain Cris was dismissed for sarcastically clapping the referee after he had been booked for a foul shortly before the hour and Puel said Lyon had reason to feel hard done-by, after also seeing Jeremy Toulalan sent off in the first leg.

"The two sendings off weren't obvious, in last week's game and tonight," he said. "I think the fourth official signalled to the referee about Cris's little bit of applause. It was harsh."

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