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Bayern open up a 'small cushion' in the table

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Bayern open up a 'small cushion' in the table

Postby FCBayernNews » Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:20 pm

It was not hard for Jupp Heynckes to motivate his men ahead of the crucial Bundesliga clash away to Stuttgart on Sunday. South German pride was at stake in front of a full house - and the fact that chief rivals Gladbach and Dortmund both unexpectedly dropped points earlier in the weekend just made the FCB stars even more determined. "It was another boost," confirmed Thomas Müller.

Team-mate Mario Gomez, who returned to his former stamping ground and struck goals on 13 and 56 minutes to seal Bayern's 2-1 victory, agreed with his fellow forward: "We heard the final score from Dortmund just before the match, and it gave us extra motivation." Thanks to their rivals' slip-ups, the men from Munich extended their lead at the top of the table to three points, "so it's a super Sunday," Arjen Robben declared.

The unofficial title of autumn champions is effectively in the bag, as FCB have a vastly superior goal difference of +30 compared to the other contenders. "We've created a small cushion for ourselves," said Gomez, although the evening at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Stuttgart actually began less than promisingly.

Gomez himself missed an open goal after five minutes, before VfB raced up the other end and opened the scoring through captain Christian Gentner some 60 seconds later. The visitors refused to be knocked out of their stride, imposed their short passing game on the match, and soon equalised. "We reacted well," said Toni Kroos, a key figure on the evening in a central defensive role.

Heynckes expressed approval of his side's initial efforts. "We were full of authority and we were smart," he remarked. On the half-hour, home defender Christian Molinaro was sent off for a second bookable offence, but far from upping their game, Bayern inexplicably lost the plot for a time. "We shifted down a gear," Heynckes mused. "We all backed off a yard after that. With a man over, we should have been much more in control," lamented Philipp Lahm.

For all that, Bayern's second goal 11 minutes after the restart was absolutely deserved, and was the result of a fine passing interchange between Kroos and Lahm, leaving Gomez to slot home from 12 yards. It was the first time this season that FCB have come from behind to lead, although there was a tense finish when the visitors failed to add a third. "We didn't wrap it up when we had the chance," said Heynckes, as Stuttgart's ten men pressed hard against Bayern's tiring players. "One or two of us eased up. It's understandable, as I had five men sick during the week," the coach reasoned.

Merry Christmas in prospect

Fortunately, at the end of a match described by Robben as "just as tough as we expected," FCB bolstered their position as Germany's best away team and hung on for an 11th win of term. "We're delighted about winning," said director of sport Christian Nerlinger. Heynckes felt the victory was "immensely important, so all credit to the team."

The Bavarians now have two more matches prior to the short mid-season break. "It's good to be top of the league," concluded Lahm, "now we want to beat Köln, and go through in the cup away to Bochum. That'll make it a happy Christmas."
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