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Lacklustre Bayern held but regain top spot

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Lacklustre Bayern held but regain top spot

Postby FCBayernNews » Sat Feb 20, 2010 5:45 pm

Bayern moved back to the top of the Bundesliga overnight, but came up short of equalling the league record of ten straight wins after struggling Nürnberg battled to a draw with Louis van Gaal's subdued side.

The 48,548 full house at the Easy-Credit Stadium saw Thomas Müller net the solitary chance of a dour first period, but Ilkay Gündogan prodded home the equaliser ten minutes into the second half. Munich launched a furious assault on the Nürnberg goal in the closing stages, but it was not to be on a day when FCB lacked the sparkle of recent weeks.

The draw takes Bayen top of the standings on 49 points from 23 matches, although Bayer Leverkusen are just a point behind going into their away trip to Werder Bremen on Sunday.

Louis van Gaal made two enforced changes to the side which squeezed past Fiorentina in midweek, replacing the injured Daniel van Buyten (calf) and Franck Ribery (bruising) with Ivica Olic and 19-year-old Diego Contento, the youngster following up his Champions League debut in midweek with a first start in the German top flight.

Holger Badstuber lined up at centre-half alongside Martin Demichelis, with Contento at left-back. Arjen Robben and Thomas Müller provided the midfield width with Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mark van Bommel in the central area. The subs' bench included a foretaste fo the future with the presence of 17-year-old wunderkind and full Austria international David Alaba.

Once referee Thorsten Kinhöfer whistled proceedings underway on a crisp late winter afternoon in Franconia, the sides turned in a tentative and at times uninspiring first half, with neither home keeper Raphael Schäfer nor visiting shot-stopper Jörg Butt seriously called into action.

With Nürnberg quite content to sit back and wait for sporadic chances on the break, the onus was on Bayern to show initiative and invention. Schweinsteiger did his best to open up the play from a quarterback-style position, but most of the visitors' efforts petered out 25 yards from goal against the packed home defence, expertly marshalled by veteran Andreas Wolf and Breno, on loan to FCN from FCB since the start of the year.

But this Bayern side are generally good for a goal or two, and the title hopefuls took the lead with their first chance on 38 minutes. It was a fine move too, Müller threading a pas through to Olic, who released Mario Gomez on the left edge of the box with a clever flick. The striker's cut-back fell perfectly for Müller, continuing his run towards the penalty spot and side-footing his eighth league goal of term from 12 yards.

Olic prodded a Robben cross wide of the upright on the stroke of half-time, the Dutch star's last contribution to the action on this particular afternoon. Hamit Altintop took over from Robben as the sides turned round with only Müller's moment of magic separating them.

However, after another ten minutes of stalemate following the restart, Butt could only parry half-time sub Eric Choupo-Moting's firm drive, and although Philipp Lahm blocked Gündogan's first effort from the rebound, the full-back was powerless to prevent the home midfielder levelling the scores at the second attempt.

Olic headed over from point-blank range from Gomez' driven cross and Müller planted a lob from a quickly-taken free-kick high over the crossbar as Munich sought to restore their lead, but there was danger at the other end when Dennis Diekmeier sprinted clear of Contento and fired narrowly over the bar.

Van Gaal sent on Miro Klose for the tiring Olic twenty minutes from time as Bayern pitched camp in the final third of the field, but Schäfer pulled out a brilliant reaction stop to deny Gomez, and then repeated the feat solidly rather than spectacularly on two further occasions. The home side threw everything into clinging onto the point and closed out the match without undue alarms.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley
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