Bayern win ugly

Gomez at the double as Bayern scrape past plucky Augsburg : Photo courtesy FC Bayern Munich.

A recent internet survey saw Mario Gomez voted the sexiest player in the German national squad. While the Bayern Munich striker is without doubt a handsome man (according to several of this correspondent's colleagues) his football is often anything but pretty. But it is pretty effective. In the first half of Bayern's second consecutive Bavarian derby in particular, Gomez's touch was wooden, his passes often misplaced, but ultimately his two goals against FC Augsburg mean that Bayern kept up the pressure on league leaders Borussia Dortmund ahead of Wednesday's top of the table clash in the Ruhr.

Bayern, who brought in David Alaba at left-back and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk for the rested Toni Kroos, also welcomed back key midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger after injury. And the record German champions could not have started better: straight from the kick-off, Franck Ribery scampered away down the left and despite being faced by two defenders was allowed to cross to Gomez, who was lurking unmarked near the penalty spot. Jentzsch kept out the initial shot from the league's top marksman, but Gomez followed up to poke home. While Augsburg had arrived in their best form of the season (six games unbeaten), Bayern have handed out numerous spankings this season and another seemed on the cards here.

That was about as good as it got for Bayern in the opening half, though, as they were pushed back by a tenacious and energetic Augsburg side, who, in truth, looked slightly the better team, with Japanese international Hajime Hosogai impressing in midfield and Axel Bellinghausen causing problems down the left. And after Jerome Boateng aimed a terrible swing and a miss at a through ball, it was Bellinghausen who had space to pick out the young Korean Ja-Cheol Koo, who fired low through a slow-to-react Manuel Neuer on 23 minutes.

It was no less than Augsburg deserved and they continued to edge the remainder of the half, with Bayern offering little going forward and seemingly lacking any urgency. Surely they didn't already have their minds on Dortmund and Real Madrid? Whatever the reason was, Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes seemed to refocus his team's collective minds during the half-time oranges as they pushed back the visitors from the off. "Too slow, not enough movement," was Heynckes post-match assessment of the first half, and the introduction of Kroos for the woefully pedestrian Tymoshchuk after 52 minutes certainly helped matters - his jog to the sideline perhaps the fastest he had moved all game.

The home team's dominance was rewarded after 60 minutes after Arjen Robben for once opted not to cut inside onto his left foot, instead playing a neat one-two with captain Philipp Lahm and side-footing across the six-yard box for that man Gomez to tap home his 25th Bundesliga goal of the season. With the visitors looking tired, it was as good as game over and despite failing to create many chances, Bayern saw out the remainder of the game in comfortable fashion for their ninth successive win in all competitions. It's a run that they will hope to continue when they travel to table-topping Dortmund on Wednesday. Win and Bayern go top on goal difference; lose and the gap would be six points and their title dreams all but over.


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