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Class beats effort as FCB overcome Zürich

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Class beats effort as FCB overcome Zürich

Postby FCBayernNews » Wed Aug 17, 2011 9:50 pm

Bayern were forced to work hard at times by a disciplined Zürich side on Wednesday night, but Munich were ultimately too strong for their limited Swiss rivals and will take a comforting lead into next Tuesday's Champions League play-off return at the Letzigrund stadium. The only criticism is that the margin should have been at least one goal more, as Jupp Heynckes' side were a shade careless with a host of late chances against tired opponents, who finished a man down after Mathieu Beda's late dismissal.

The 66,000 capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena saw Bastian Schweinsteiger head the Bundesliga giants into an eighth-minute lead, but the men from Zürich settled to the task at hand and the home side's attacking efforts decreased in intensity as the first half wore on. FCB were transformed after the break as the chances came thick and fast, and although Franck Ribery saw his free-kick come back off the post, Arjen Robben curled the second with 20 minutes to play. Munich battered away at the FCZ goal but the third, tie-killing strike would simply not come as a host of chances went begging.

Nevertheless, the win means FCB will approach next week's second leg in Switzerland confident of completing the European qualifying job, although Munich are next in action on Saturday afternoon when Hamburg visit the Bavarian capital for the third Bundesliga fixture of the 2011/12 season.

For the first time this season, Jupp Heynckes was in the happy position of fielding a full-strength starting line-up. The FCB boss duly made one change to the team which chalked up a first Bundesliga win of term away to Wolfsburg last Saturday, unlucky Thomas Müller dropping to the bench to accommodate fit-again Robben.

The Dutchman took up station on the right, with Franck Ribery on the opposite flank, Toni Kroos in the playmaking position, and Mario Gomez up front. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Luiz Gustavo shared the holding midfield duties, with Rafinha, Jerome Boateng, Holger Badstuber and captain Philipp Lahm in defence, and Manuel Neuer in goal.

Last term's Swiss runners-up FCZ arrived in Munich on the back of three straight league wins, although boss Urs Fischer and his men paid a heavy price for Saturday's prestige victory over champions Basel with the loss to injury of midfielder Stjepan Kukuruzovic (cruciate) and striker Alexandre Alphonse (calf). Regular right-back Philipp Koch was suspended, but his brother Raphael stepped into the breach.

After Russian referee Alexei Nikolaev set proceedings in motion, the first chance fell to former Hertha Berlin striker Amine Chermiti, but the Tunisia international headed Ricardo Rodriguez' fifth-minute cross wide of Neuer's goal.

Bayern's response was swift and lethal, Robben escaping down the left from the breakdown after a corner and sending over a low cross which took a slight deflection off Mathieu Beda's head. Schweinsteiger stood his ground and steered a cushioned header just inside Johnny Leoni's left-hand post to hand FCB the early lead.

Buoyed by their perfect start, the home side pressed and FCZ keeper Leoni did well to block from Lahm, before Beda denied the mobile Gomez with a late lunge. However, the visitors regrouped and FCB struggled to create chances until after the half-hour, when Gomez wanted too long from Schweinsteiger's slide-rule pass, Kroos saw a powerful drive deflected for a corner, and Gomez blasted a shot on the turn into the crowd.

Chermiti headed straight at Neuer as Zürich finally threatened again from a set play, although the sharp-shooter was in any case offside, before Rodriguez curled a long-distance free-kick wide of the target in the last incident of a half which started well but slowly petered out from a Bayern point of view.

Heynckes' men emerged for the second period with a real sense of urgency, but although Gomez spun on a sixpence to meet Ribery's cut-back, the striker fired wide from just six yards. Leoni then pulled out two spectacular saves, diving to beat out Ribery's skidding shot and bravely blocking Lahm's close-range follow-up, before Robben aimed just a shade wide of the far stick following Rodriguez' error.

Müller took over from Kroos for the last half-hour, before Ribery conjured up a beautiful curling free-kick, only to see his effort smack against the upright with Leoni well beaten. Müller skied his first half-chance, Leoni fisted away Schweinsteiger's drive, Müller had a very decent shout for a penalty turned down by the Russian match official.

Neuer was forced to tip a swerving Zürich corner over the bar as the action briefly switched to the other end, but FCB got the second goal they fully deserved on 72 minutes, when Ribery and Gomez combined excellently to tee up Robben for a superb left-foot curler beyond Leoni and into the far corner of the net.

It was all FCB from then on in. Ribery started off on a mazy dribble into the FCZ box only to toe-poke straight at Leoni, Robben dragged a shot narrowly wide, Djuric cleared off the line as Gomez fired at goal from a tight angle following Lahm's fine run, Ribery shot over the bar, and Leoni saved at point-blank range from Gomez after the striker played on despite Rodriguez' blatant tug at his shirt.

Former Kaiserslautern man Beda was dismissed for a second yellow card in stoppage time, but the third goal still refused to come and the tie is still alive, even if the advantage lies firmly in Bayern's hands.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley
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