Take Five

Gomez returned in sparkling form and helped Shaqiri to a header. Photo: FC Bayern MunichA colleague said to me last week: "We are Bayern. We don't need to prove anything to anyone." As much as their league form has done enough to vindicate that statement, their Champions League performances have done anything but. A 3-1 away defeat to BATE Borisov was improved upon, albeit only slightly, by a stuttering 1-1 draw in Valencia, a result which saw them secure qualification last time out. 

Bearing that in mind, Heynckes took the liberty of making seven changes to his side ahead of their home game against BATE. The fabled squad rotation does not always work in your favour, as Heynckes found out in the 1-1 draw with Nürnberg earlier this season. This evening was not to be a repeat.

With their fans in good voice and evidently suited to the low temperatures, BATE stood firm early on to deny Bayern their customary early goal. Kontsevoi fired in a shot to test Neuer as a lethargic Bayern showed all the signs of a rotated line-up. Step forward Mario Gomez. Injured for 3 months, returns to score 24 seconds into his Bundesliga comeback against Hannover in a 5-0 trouncing and assisted the equaliser in Valencia in his first Champions League game since that final last year. Xherdan Shaqiri found the striker after persistent work on the left wing and Gomez, clearly having had his pre-match potato salad, tucked the ball away with ease.

Toni Kroos had the best of the rest in terms of first-half chances for Bayern, dipping a half-volley just over, before drilling a free-kick into the wall as well as forcing a good save from Gorbunov with a curling effort. In a somewhat familiar and timely fashion, Bayern had relied on their goalscorer to see them through and were in complete control at the break.

The second half certainly did not follow suit with the first. Five minutes in and Bayern were down to 10 men as Jerome Boateng was late into his challenge, causing both an audible wince from the crowd and a straight red from the referee. As much as that seemed to be an invitation for BATE to come out and play, four minutes later Bayern instantly removed that opportunity by scoring a second. A free kick from Toni Kroos on the left-hand side drifted into the box and having failed to clear properly, Thomas Müller took advantage to side-foot home his side's second goal of the night.

Suddenly Bayern looked interested again and found a third when Gomez timed his run perfectly to float a cross into the area where Shaqiri embarrassed the much taller Bordachev by beating him in the area to head home Bayern's third. Goncharenko's men were struggling and things got worse when Denis Polyakov picked up a second booking.

As they so often do, the home fans wanted more and having asked for their star Frenchman, Heynckes duly responded bringing him on with less than twenty minutes left. Bayern's number seven instantly caused problems for a frustrated away side and with seven minutes to go, his corner was pulled down and drilled into the bottom corner by David Alaba to complete the route for Bayern. Yegor Filipenko gave his fans something to shout about with a late consolation goal that undoubtedly ruined Manuel Neuer's night. Nevertheless, if there was a point to prove then Bayern certainly did that tonight.

After the game, Thomas Müller replied to question marks over Bayern's motivation: "We are fully motivated, regardless of our opponent because we are Bayern Munich and we want to win every game." The goalscorer went on to add that he wasn't "concerned with who we draw in the next round."

Former Stuttgart, Arsenal and Barcelona winger Aliaksandr Hleb spoke of his future after the game. "I will decide after the 15th December about my future. It's difficult to say. I need to think about what I want." Hleb spoke of a "big step" for his team saying "winning two games in this group, the second group for quality in the Champions League has made us happy. BATE is a small team but it's ok, football is difficult."

When asked about his Arsenal career, the former London man said he missed Arsenal "a lot." He added, "I am watching the team and I wish Arsene all the best. Some friends play there and I know Arsene Wenger is a fantastic coach. I know this team will slowly get better. But now there are a few problems." He finished on a lighter note, saying "Arsene Wenger needs to bring me back."

With only three games to go before Christmas - Gladbach (home) and then two against Augsburg, one cup fixture and one away game in the Bundesliga - Heynckes has surely already written his Christmas list. 


FC Bayern München: Neuer - Contento, Boateng, Van Buyten, Rafinha - Tymoshchuk, Schweinsteiger (72' Ribery) - Shaqiri, Kroos (64' Alaba), Müller (55' Dante) - Gomez

BATE Borisov: Gorbunov - Bordachev (84' Yurevich), Filipenko, Radkov, Polyakov - Baga - Volodko, Olekhnovich - Hleb, Kontsevoi (58' Bressan) - Rodionov (67' Vasilyuk)

Goals: 1-0 Gomez (22'), 2-0 Müller (54'), 3-0 Shaqiri (66'), 4-0 Alaba (83'), 4-1 Filipenko (89')

Red cards: Boateng (51'), Polyakov (69')
Attendance: 68,000
Referee: William Collum (Scotland)


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