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Unrelenting Bayern stretch lead to eleven points

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Unrelenting Bayern stretch lead to eleven points

Postby FCBayernNews » Sun Jan 27, 2013 7:30 pm

Bayern extended their winning streak against south German rivals VfB Stuttgart to eight games on Sunday and stretched their lead in the Bundesliga too, a much improved second-half display and goals from Mario Mandzukic and Thomas Müller proving enough to overcome the intransigent home team, who finished with ten men after Martin Harnik's late dismissal.

The first 60,441 full house of term at the Mercedes-Benz Arena witnessed a tight tactical battle in the first period with little goalmouth action. Dante and Mandzukic had half-chances for Jupp Heynckes' side, with Manuel Neuer making one scrambled save to deny VfB and Austria dangerman Harnik.

The visitors were much sprightlier after the restart and never looked back after Mandzukic capitalised on a Cristian Molinaro howler to hand his side a 50th-minute lead. Müller netted the second from close range with 20 minutes to go, before hothead Harnik saw a second yellow card and was sent off ten minutes from time.

The result takes Bayern onto 48 points from 19 matches, now 11 points clear of Bayer Leverkusen and 12 ahead of champions Dortmund. FCB return to action at home to Mainz next Saturday.

With the exception of long-term absentee Holger Badstuber (cruciate), the full FCB squad was available for selection in Stuttgart. However, Heynckes opted not to rotate his team for only the second time this season, meaning the likes of Arjen Robben, Mario Gomez, Xherdan Shaqiri and Jerome Boateng took seats on the bench.

The starting line-up was unchanged from last week's 2-0 victory over Fürth, with Neuer in goal, David Alaba, Dante, Daniel van Buyten and captain Philipp Lahm in defence, Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger in central midfield, Müller and Franck Ribery out wide, and Toni Kroos in the hole behind Mandzukic.

VfB boss Bruno Labbadia made 82 appearances for Bayern as a striker from 1991 to 1994, and fielded a side including centre-back Georg Niedermeier, who spent thirteen and a half years in the FCB youths and reserves. However, there were no places for Stuttgart's two midweek signings, centre back Felipe Lopes and Manchester United reserve striker Federico Macheda.

After referee Florian Meyer whistled play underway in the Swabian capital, the pattern of the match soon became clear with Bayern bossing possession and Stuttgart content to sit back and look for opportunities on the break.

Labbadia's disciplined troops stuck doggedly to the task and FCB found the going tough at times. Dante steered a header wide on 11 minutes and Martinez followed suit a few minutes later, before Alaba lofted a free-kick into the crowd midway through the half.

Stuttgart gradually worked their way into it around the half-hour and Shinji Okazaki volleyed narrowly wide, before VfB created the best chance of the first period on 34 minutes when Harnik's close-range header from a fast break flicked against the post and had Neuer briefly in difficulty, the keeper gathering at the second attempt. Müller came within inches of a clear run at VfB keeper Sven Ulreich and Mandzukic fired a shot on the turn over the bar, but the goalless scoreline at the break was a fair reflection of the play.

FCB needed only five minutes after the restart to take the lead when Mandzukic pounced on Italy international Molinaro's suicidal back pass, the big Croat coolly rounding Ulreich and slotting into the empty net.

Müller also beat the home keeper a few moments later but was called back for offside, before Mr Meyer denied FCB what looked a clear penalty when Niedermeier clattered into Kroos, the incensed Munich midfielder earning a yellow card for protesting too vigorously.

The visitors upped the tempo now and Ulreich scrambled away a Mandzukic header, but the keeper was powerless to prevent Müller latching onto a sublime Mandzukic centre and making the score 2-0 after 72 minutes. The home side's frustration showed when Harnik needlessly fouled Ribery and was dismissed for a second yellow card with ten minutes to go, before Gomez and Shaqiri took over from Mandzukic and Ribery at the end.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley
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