Back to their best

Striker Mario Gomez celebrated his goal and perhaps his team's return to form.  Photo: FC Bayern/TMT archiveMercedes Benz Stadium, Stuttgart - FC Bayern München put the disappointment of last week's 1-1 draw at Hamburger SV well and truly behind them with a clinical performance to beat VfB Stuttgart in the German Cup quarter final on Wednesday. Goals in each half from Franck Ribéry and ex-Stuttgarter Mario Gomez settled the game.

Manager Jupp Heynckes had said before the game that it would only be a matter of time before his side rediscovered their zip in the final third. Tonight's game ensured he didn't have long to wait at all.

Some of Bayern's attacking play was a joy to watch in the first half. The neat, sharp interplay between Ribéry, Thomas Müller and Toni Kroos had the Stuttgart defenders at sixes and sevens. A crucial block denied Gomez on 25 minutes, while Kroos twice came close from distance, his first effort rattling the crossbar.

A goal looked in the offing for FCB and it arrived from Ribéry after a pinpoint cross from the right from Müller (30'). A second, and ultimately decisive goal was added by Gomez just 25 seconds after the half time. Yet another lightning-quick counter left last season's top scorer free in the box, and slotted in for 2-0 at the second attempt.

Much will have pleased Heynckes about tonight's win, not least the attacking verve his team showed and how comfortably they kept the Stuttgart side at arm's length for almost the entire game. It was a performance reminiscent in many ways of rivals' Dortmund's win in Nürnberg last weekend, showing composure, quality and, above all, a ruthless streak.

The only complaint was an injury to Bastian Schweinsteiger early on. He was replaced by David Alaba after injuring his ankle in challenge with Georg Niedermeier. It remains to be seen what damage has been done to the Reds' midfield general.

The draw for the semi-finals for the DFB Pokal will take place Saturday evening.  Potential opponents for the Reds could be Dortmund, Borussia Mönchengladbach - both teams that have already beaten Bayern this season in league play - or Bavarian neighbors Greuther Fürth from the second division of the Bundesliga.

Bayern return to action before that as they host 1.FC Kaiserslautern, kickoff at 15:30 CET at the Allianz Arena.


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