Gomez-merising!

A 'Super Mario' hat-trick seals the deal. Photo: FC BayernAllianz Arena - Bayern Munich survived a brave comeback from Napoli to virtually seal their passage into the knockout stages of the Champions League. The Bavarians have now won nine consecutive home games in all competitions.

A first-half hat-trick from Mario Gomez appeared to have set the record German champions on the way to another routine home victory.

Gomez opened the scoring in the 17th minute with a sublime turn and finish past Napoli goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis.

Bayern doubled their lead on 23 minutes when Toni Kroos fed goal-hungry 'Super Mario' who slotted home with aplomb.

Gomez sealed his hat-trick with a trademark finish - a close range tap-in -just minutes before half time. De Sanctis could only parry a Kroos shot and the German international striker was in the right place again to pick up the scraps.

Bayern were leading 3-0 and coasting just moments before the break - with a running aggregate of 36-0 from their last nine home games. Game over, you would have thought? However, Napoli were unwilling doormats and forced a few headline writers into tweaking their scripts.

Argentinian defender Federico Fernandez headed home on the stroke of the half-time whistle from a well-worked set-piece for what appeared a mere consolation at the time.

Five minutes after the break Bayern were left reeling by a serious injury to Bastian Schweinsteiger. Bayern's playmaker was carried off on a stretcher after a collision with Napoli midfielder Goekhan Inler. The initial diagnosis from the Bayern medics is a broken collar bone. Schweinsteiger could have played his last competitive football in 2011.

Schweinsteiger set for long winter Photo: FC BayernThe home side struggled to recover from the shock of losing their talisman in central midfield and Napoli produced a much improved performance in a scrappy second half.

Both sides ended the game redcued to ten men after referee Bjoern Kuipers became a little overzealous with his cards. Firstly, Juan Zuniga received two yellow cards in 75 seconds with twenty minutes to play.

The Dutch referee, Kuipers, soon evened up affairs with Holger Badstuber given his marching orders on 77 minutes, when alleged to have pulled back Edinson Cavani. The German international defender also scored an own goal in the recent game in Naples and will have unpleasant memories of his personal battles against Serie A's 5th place side.

Fernandez was again in the right place at the back post to outleap Daniel van Buyten to pull another goal back for the gallant Italian side with eleven minutes remaining.

Bayern were made to sweat unnecessarily on the outcome as the Italian side threw everything at them looking for an unlikely equaliser. Napoli pushed everyone up - including goalkeeper De Sanctis - for a last-ditch corner. The chance came to nothing and fell to man-of-the-match Gomez who shot from well into his own half with De Sanctis scrambling madly back to his goal. The Italian goalkeeper just had enough left in the tank to prevent another remarkable goal for the prolific Gomez.

''It wasn't a perfect evening, losing Schweinsteiger shocked the team, '' said hat-trick man Gomez after the game. He is our midfield general, who dictates and calms our tempo.''

Coach Jupp Heynckes tried to play down the injury worry to Schweinsteiger. ''We've always managed to replace injured players. I hope we can do it again,'' he said.

''But in the second half we saw how important Bastian Schweinsteiger is to us. After he went off our game went to pieces'', added a perturbed Heynckes.

Gomez now leads this season's Champions League scoring charts (alongside Lionel Messi of Barcelona) with five goals. The in-form goal-machine Gomez has notched 19 goals in 17 games in all competitions.

Bayern lead Group A with ten points ahead of Manchester City and need only a draw against the pointless Spanish side Villareal to seal their qualification into the next phase.


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