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Gomez seals victory over stubborn Hoffenheim

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Gomez seals victory over stubborn Hoffenheim

Postby FCBayernNews » Sun Mar 03, 2013 5:40 pm

Bayern knew they faced a fight away to relegation-haunted Hoffenheim on Sunday afternoon, and the strugglers did indeed make the runaway league leaders work hard for a narrow but ultimately merited victory courtesy of Mario Gomez' first-half strike.

The 30,1550 capacity crowd at Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena in Sinsheim saw the home side more than hold their own against the reshaped visitors for the first quarter of the match, but FCB found another gear after that and Gomez duly struck a 38th-minute opener.

Both sides enjoyed periods of ascendancy after the restart, Bastian Schweinsteiger crashing a 70th-minute free-kick off the bar and then hitting the inside of the post barely five minutes later, but Munich looked increasingly assured against the tiring home side and safely saw the game through to the close.

Bayern's 20th victory this term sees the champions-elect onto another new record of 63 points from 24 league games, with an equally imposing goal difference of +5X. FCB, who maintain their 17-point lead in the standings over champions Dortmund, are in action again next Saturday afternoon at home to Fortuna Düsseldorf, before Arsenal visit the Allianz Arena in the Champions League the following Wednesday.

Staying true to the precedent of the recent busy weeks, FCB boss Jupp Heynckes used the match to rotate his squad: Jerome Boateng, Xherdan Shaqiri and Gomez came in for Daniel van Buyten, Toni Kroos and Mario Mandzukic, with Manuel Neuer giving way in goal to former Hoffenheim keeper Tom Starke, making his top flight debut for the Reds.

Another new face in the starting line-up was Franck Ribery, who missed the DFB Cup quarter-final win over Dortmund with suspension. The Frenchman came in for Wednesday's match-winner Arjen Robben, who was rested as a precaution with a calf strain.

Hoffenheim boss Marco Kurz reacted to a dismal display last time out in a 2-1 defeat to fellow relegation strugglers Augsburg by making six changes to his team. Among the new faces coming in were former FCB youth Patrick Ochs, ex-Mönchengladbach schemer Igor de Camargo, and the first-ever Japanese player to represent Bayern, Tashaki Usami.

Once referee Thorsten Kinhöfer whistled play underway, Kurz's men made a bright start and successfully refused to let the visitors slip into their passing groove. Schweinsteiger tested home keeper Heurelho Gomes with a curling ninth-minute free-kick, but the TSG skipper turned the ball round the post, Gomez failing to get enough power behind a header from the ensuing corner.

Hoffenheim made the running for a spell and US international Daniel Williams hit the side-netting with a first-time effort after 14 minutes, before Usami released de Camargo in acres of space, but although the ex-Gladbach man rounded Starke, David Alaba was on hand to clear the danger. Bayern responded and Thomas Müller wasted a decent opening down the inside-right channel, electing to look for a team-mate when a shot might have been the better option, before the lively Williams blasted narrowly wide from long range.

But Heynckes' men gathered it all together midway through the first half, Müller heading a Ribery cross from the right flank just a couple of yards wide. The league leaders piled on the pressure now, and although Gomez aimed a header off target, the Germany striker made no mistake with the opening goal after 38 minutes. The move began when Boateng intercepted De Camargo's pass out of defence and clipped a ball to Ribery on the edge of the box. The Frenchman conjured up a superb headed lay-off for Gomez, who bundled the ball past Gomes with his left-foot.

Bayern tails were up and Philipp Lahm drew a good save from Gomes after Müller's intelligent cut-back, with two Munich men unable to net the rebound. TSG were by no means out of it and Starke saved Williams' 25-yard effort, before Alaba put the last chance of the first half over Gomes' bar.

The home side came out fighting for the second period, Müller thwarting de Camargo's attempt to wriggle clear in the box, Ochs marauding down the right, and Dante blocking sub Roberto Firmino's speculative drive. At the other end, Gomes collected Lahm's deflected shot but was caught on the hand by the onrushing Shaqiri, who gave way to former TSG man Luiz Gustavo straight afterwards.

Philippine international Stephan Schröck took centre-stage for a time, first testing Starke with a well-placed shot, and then earning a yellow card for a foul on Ribery, Schweinsteiger curling the ensuing 25-yard free-kick over the wall but against the crossbar. Mandzukic replaced Gomez for the last 15 minutes, before Schweinsteiger was out of luck again with a free-kick from the right which smacked off the inside of the left-hand upright and back into play.

In the closing stages, Mandzukic flicked a header wide of the far post, Ribery forced Gomes into a fine block with a powerful 16-yard drive, the home keeper made an even better save to deny Alaba, and both Müller and Mandzukic failed to put away the long overdue second, as the Bavarians saw an ultimately deserved victory safely through to the close.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley
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