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Luca off the mark in the Champions League

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Luca off the mark in the Champions League

Postby FCBayernNews » Wed Nov 26, 2008 9:15 pm

Luca Toni struck his first Champions League goal on Tuesday - but the big Italian was unable to celebrate with his famous cupped-hand-to-ear gesture. He netted a diving header after 61 minutes of Bayern's meeting with Steaua Bucharest, but landed awkwardly and was forced to receive treatment as he lay prone in the Romanians' penalty area.

"Obviously I'd have preferred not to injure myself in the act of scoring," the 31-year-old told reporters at the Säbener Strasse on Wednesday, "but I'd rather that happened than not score at all." A day after the clear-cut 3-0 victory over Steaua, the bandages on the player's left hand and right shoulder testified to his determination and desire to add his name to the scoresheet in Europe's elite club competition for the first time.

Just as in the last Bundesliga home match against Cottbus, last season's leading scorer failed to put away a string of decent chances at the start. "I knew I only had to keep trying, and then I'd score," insisted Toni, who never doubted his destiny as a scorer in Tuesday's game. "It's only bad when you have no chances at all. Provided I keep having chances, it's a very good sign."

Miroslav Klose laid on Toni's goal, the World Cup winner's maiden Champions League strike in his fourth appearance in the competition. "Luca and I missed a couple, but what matters is that we're creating the chances. Then it's just a matter of time before one of us scores." Klose felt Bayern were a shade cramped before half-time, "because we were trying to batter them into submission. It never works if you try too hard, you do need to stay calm."

No-one could ever accuse Toni of not keeping his cool. "It's going well and we're a good bunch. It's really enjoyable at the moment," he commented. Jürgen Klinsmann, a former world-class striker himself, is also enjoying watching his successors at work. "Luca is the kind of guy who's still hungry even after a missed chance or two. That's what marks out a striker of his class."

"I told him before kick-off and again at half-time that he'd score his first Champions League goal," Klinsmann revealed, "I told him to be stubborn and stay hungry." The head coach was visibly delighted with his number nine: "This is why we're so glad he's here."

Eyeing the four matches remaining until the mid-season break, Toni described the programme as containing "vital, decisive games." The marksman is now keen to extend his streak of four goals in the last four fixtures, although it seems he will have to improvise any goal celebrations for a time. "I can't do it to the left because my hand hurts, and I can't do it to the right because my shoulder hurts, so I'll have to think of something else."
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