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Leaders and champions share the spoils

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Leaders and champions share the spoils

Postby FCBayernNews » Sat Dec 01, 2012 8:40 pm

Bundesliga leaders Bayern and champions Borussia Dortmund cancelled each other out and shared the spoils in an intriguing but hardly action-packed encounter on Saturday evening, with the Reds at least stopping BVB's four-game winning streak in the fixture but having to make do with their second league draw of the season.

The 71,000 capacity crowd packed into the Allianz Arena despite the sub-zero temperatures saw two evenly-matched sides contest a tactically absorbing first half, but there was little goalmouth action to warm the fans' hands and hearts. Instead, the most noteworthy incident was an unwanted one as Holger Badstuber was carried off on a stretcher with a suspected torn cruciate.

BVB were the livelier team in the early exchanges after the retstart, but Bayern resumed command on the hour and Toni Kroos opened the scoring with a fine solo effort midway through the second half. Mario Götze levelled seven minutes later, and although the league leaders went in search of a winner right to the end, Borussia keeper Roman Weidenfeller was in scintillating form on the night.

A second draw in the 15 league games so far means FCB are up to 38 points, now eight ahead of second-placed Leverkusen, with champions BVB still 11 points behind with two games until the midpoint of the campaign. FCB are next in action on Wednesday with BATE Borisov due in the Bavarian capital for the final Champions League Group F fixture.

Heynckes made two changes to the team from the 2-0 win away to Freiburg in midweek, restoring rested duo Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Mandzukic for Xherdan Shaqiri and Mario Gomez.

That meant a line-up comprising Manuel Neuer in goal, David Alaba, Dante, Badstuber and captain Philipp Lahm in the back four, Javi Martinez alongside Schweinsteiger in central midfield, Thomas Müller and Franck Ribery out wide, and Kroos in the hole behind Mandzukic.

BVB boss Jürgen Klopp, knowing the match represented his side's last realistic chance of influencing this season's title race, was dealt a blow when captain Sebastian Kehl withdrew on Friday due to knee problems, but still fielded a strong side featuring former Bayern youth Mats Hummels at centre-back and dangerous Germany pair Marco Reus and Mario Götze in attacking midfield.

There was a scare for Heynckes' men just three minutes after referee Peter Gagelmann whistled for kick-off when Neuer miskicked in front of Reus, but Robert Lewandowski failed to capitalise. FCB hit back, with Ribery and Müller creating havoc in the Dortmund box, but Klopp had clearly ordered his men to treat the opening exchanges with caution and it was cat and mouse for a time.

Kroos and Sven Bender each shot wide from distance, but with both sides pressing aggressively high up the field, space was at a premium. FCB suffered a setback on 36 minutes when Badstuber was stretchered off after twisting a knee in an accidental collision with Götze and Martinez, Boateng taking his place at centre-back.

The teams continued to neutralise each other, with Reus volleying the last opening of the first half straight at Neuer in a rare BVB foray. Kroos took the first chance after the restart on the full but saw his shot balloon into the crowd, before Neuer saved brilliantly from Hummels after FCB were caught napping from a quickly-taken free-kick.

The pace began to quicken now, Mandzukic testing BVB keeper Weidenfeller from 20 yards, Reus prompting Neuer to smother at his feet, Marcel Schmelzer striking a half-volley wide of the post, and Götze steering a header straight at the home keeper. Just after the hour, Mandzukic flashed a header wide from an Alaba cross, Ribery only just mistimed a flying scissors kick, and FCB had a reasonable shout for a penalty waved aside following a challenge by Schmelzer on Müller.

The crowd erupted in joy midway through the second half when Kroos finally broke the deadlock with a lovely shimmy past Hummels and Nevan Subotic and a low drive beyond Weidenfeller's left hand. The champions came at the leaders now, Boateng stifling a Reus thrust, but Götze levelled with a well-placed shot from a loose ball following a 74th-minute corner.

Ribery burst clear in front of Weidenfeller only for Müller to be called offside, and the Germany international cracked a left-foot shot just wide of the upright, before Gomez replaced Mandzukic for the last few minutes, the sub brilliantly setting up Kroos only for Weidenfeller to block. The keeper then excelled in the final flurry as he tipped Müller's cross-cum-shot over the bar and Martinez' header round the post, the game ending in a stalemate.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley
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