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Robben strike sends on-fire FCB into last four

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Robben strike sends on-fire FCB into last four

Postby FCBayernNews » Wed Feb 27, 2013 10:40 pm

Bayern gained a measure of revenge for defeat to Dortmund in last season's DFB Cup final and underlined their status as the best team in Germany right now with a narrow but merited cup quarter-final victory over arch-rivals BVB. Arjen Robben's 43rd-minute goal gave Munich the edge in an always absorbing contest, as FCB ended a run of five league and cup meetings without a win against the Ruhr Valley side.

The 71,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw the game ebb and flow for half an hour, before Jupp Heynckes' men cranked up the pressure and were rewarded with Robben's curled opener two minutes from half-time.

The visitors made a fist of it after the restart, but Manuel Neuer and company held firm and threatened at the other end too, Daniel van Buyten heading over from point-blank range and Dante seeing a header cleared off the line. FCB withstood a frantic finish without undue concern to deservedly book a place in the last four.

The draw for the semi-finals, where 15-time winners FCB will face Freiburg, Wolfsburg or Stuttgart, takes place on Sunday evening. The Bavarians are next in action away to struggling Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga on Sunday afternoon, with no midweek game for a change prior to the home meeting with Fortuna Düsseldorf the following Saturday.

After making six changes for the 6-1 victory over Bremen last Saturday, Heynckes reverted to his favoured line-up of recent weeks, with the exception of the suspended Franck Ribery. It meant Van Buyten, David Alaba, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos, Thomas Müller and Mario Mandzukic returned to the side in place of Jerome Boateng, Diego Contento, Luiz Gustavo, Xherdan Shaqiri, Mario Gomez and Ribery.

FCB took the field with Neuer in goal, Alaba, Dante, Van Buyten and captain Philipp Lahm in the back four, Javi Martinez and Schweinsteiger anchoring the midfield, Arjen Robben and Müller on the flanks, and Kroos in the hole behind Mandzukic.

Charismatic BVB boss Jürgen Klopp, already publicly resigned to surrendering the Bundesliga crown in the light of FCB's 17-point lead in the standings, lost former Munich youth Mats Hummels in the morning to a bout of flu, Felipe Santana taking over at centre-back instead. Sven Bender also came in for Sebastian Kehl, with young Moritz Leitner giving way to dangerman Robert Lewandowski, currently suspended in the league but eligible to play in the cup.

After referee Knut Kircher whistled play underway, the nation's top-scoring teams wasted no time getting onto the front foot and the game rapidly evolved into a pleasing, high-tempo encounter. The early chances fell to the home team, Robben warming Borussia keeper Roman Weidenfeller's gloves with an angled drive, and Kroos declining a huge chance to open the scoring by steering wide of an open goal after Weidenfeller could only parry a deflected Lahm effort.

Mandzukic raked a low shot across goal, but Dortmund saw more of the ball around the midpoint of the half and FCB were forced to defend deep for a time. Heynckes' men soon recovered their poise and the teams played a game of cat and mouse, Santana just beating Dante to a headed chance, and Martinez volleying goalwards from a Schweinsteiger chip, Weidenfeller allowing the shot to squirm under his body but recovering the ball at the foot of the post.

Munich piled on the pressure in the ten minutes before the break, Robben blasting over the bar from a tight angle and then drawing a brave save from Weidenfeller, although the Dutch ace was called narrowly offside. But it felt like a goal was coming, and Robben himself deservedly opened the scoring after 43 minutes with a fine 20-yard curler after Lahm robbed Marcel Schmelzer on the edge of the BVB box.

Müller so nearly made it two right at the start of the second half but dallied on the ball, before Kroos' inadvertent deflection sailed into Weidenfeller's gloves, and Neuer made his first save of the night from Ilkay Gündogan's rising drive. The visitors were livelier, Lukasz Piszczek firing wide and Marco Reus whistling a shot wide of the far post, but FCB always looked likely coming forward and Weidenfeller blocked Kroos' close-range stab and left-foot blaster in quick succession.

The contest was wide open for a spell with intricate passing attempts on the edge of both penalty areas, Martinez drawing a punched save from Weidenfeller on 70 minutes and van Buyten powering a free header inches over the bar from the ensuing corner, before Gündogan floated a chip wide at the other end.

Heynckes sent on Luiz Gustavo for the exhausted Müller 11 minutes from time, before Mario Götze cleared Dante's header off the line and the BVB keeper tipped the Brazilian's follow-up over the bar. Weidenfeller made his eighth save of the night to deny Mandzukic, and sub Julian Schieber headed over Neuer's goal before referee Kircher blew the final whistle on a triumphant night for the men in red.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley
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