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Müller at the double as FCB send Köln down

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Müller at the double as FCB send Köln down

Postby FCBayernNews » Sat May 05, 2012 4:40 pm

Bayern finished convincing winners in Cologne on the last day of the season in a match which was only a true contest for a half, a double strike just after the break effectively sealing the home side's relegation from the top flight and ending their earlier stern resistance.

The deafeningly loud 50,000 full house at RheinEnergieStadion saw Jupp Heynckes' men run out in what could well be their Champions League final line-up, and after sorting out some early communication problems, Munich were good value for their half-time lead courtesy of Thomas Müller's 34th-minute goal.

The second half was only seven minutes old when Pedro Geromel put through his own goal, before Arjen Robben added an excellent third just 120 seconds later. Milivoje Novakovic pulled one back after 63 minutes, but the fight had gone out of the home side now and Müller added his side's fourth with five minutes to go.

The result means Bayern end the league season in second place with 73 points from their 34 matches. The Bavarians' eventful campaign now reaches its climax with the two huge games in the next two weeks, the DFB Cup showdown with Dortmund in Berlin next Saturday, and the Champions League final at the Allianz Arena a week after that on Saturday 19 May.

Heynckes made seven changes to the team which beat Stuttgart 2-0 last weekend, although the real talking point was the boss's decision to omit Holger Badstuber and David Alaba from his starting line-up. With Luiz Gustavo stuck behind in Munich having treatment to an ankle injury in any case, it all looked like a trial run for the potential line-up against Chelsea in two weeks, minus the suspended trio.

That meant the visitors started with Manuel Neuer in goal behind a back four of Diego Contento, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk, Jerome Boateng and captain Philipp Lahm. Toni Kroos partnered Bastian Schweinsteiger in central midfield, with Franck Ribery and Robben on the flanks, and Müller in the hole behind lone striker Mario Gomez.

Köln boss Frank Schaefer, knowing his team needed a first win in ten matches to be absolutely sure of making the promotion play-off, sent out a side initially geared up for counter-attacking. Ex-FCB man and local Cologne boy made good Lukas Podolski received an emotional farewell before trying his luck in the Premier League with Arsenal next season, and there was a familiar face between the sticks too in the shape of former Oliver Kahn understudy Michael Rensing.

Once referee Florian Meyer whistled play underway on an unseasonably chilly and damp afternoon in the Rhineland, the sides felt each other out for a time, before Podolski and Gomez loosed off early sighters at either end. There was an anxious moment for FCB on the quarter-hour when Gomez went down under a hefty challenge form Rensing, but the striker picked himself up a played on.

Podolski twice tested Neuer from distance midway through the first half, but the visitors looked much more settled now and were moving the ball smoothly towards the final third. The opening goal arrived on 34 minutes when Ribery waltzed to the right edge of the box and crossed, the ball evading Gomez but landing perfectly for Müller to take a touch and slot past Rensing from ten yards.

Müller skidded a drive inches wide and then wasted an excellent opportunity on the break as FCB sought to press home the advantage, but the home side showed signs of life at this stage and Podolski had a decent shout for a penalty waved aside in the last incident of the half.

The home side opened brightly after the restart too, but Köln's cause took a severe turn for the worse when Ribery danced to the by-line on the left and squared, the unlucky Geromel sliding to beat Gomez to the ball but only succeeding in turning it over his own line. The bewildered Köln defence was torn asunder again just two minutes later when Kroos, Müller and Gomez combined to set up Robben for a cracking finish off the Dutchman's favoured left foot, and the game was all but over at 3-0.

Rensing then twice blocked bravely from Gomez as the striker went for the goal which would seal him at least a share of the top scorer crown, but there was suddenly life in the ground again on 63 minutes when half-time sub Novakovic pulled one back from close range after Podolski's dash and cross.

It was end to end stuff now, as Rensing threw out an arm to deny Ribery and Gomez lofted over the bar, before Alaba, Badstuber and Rafinha replaced Kroos, Ribery and Robben for the last 20 minutes. The home crowd started drifting away now as relegation loomed ever larger, many of the faithful missing the last few chances of the match as Rensing made a hash of dealing with Tymoshchuk's piledriver but got away with it, Novakovic glanced a header wide, and Müller touched in at the near post to add the fourth with five minues remaining.

Chris Hamley reporting from RheinEnergieStadion for fcbayern.de
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