FC Bayern stomp Schalke, move up in the table
Allianz Arena, Munich, April 30 - Arjen Robben scored a goal in his return from a suspension and Thomas Müller added two more goals to power FC Bayern München past FC Schalke 4-1. The win and the three points spring the Reds into third in the Bundesliga and a berth for the Champions League qualification spot.
Bayern interim head coach Andries Jonker had hoped Schalke would come into the match distracted, focusing on their Champions League semi-final return match Wednesday versus Manchester United. And they played as such.
The match started off with Robben and Franck Ribéry running freely through the Royal Blues' defense and creating one shot opportunity after another. After a couple of missed chances, Mario Gomez found Robben unmarked in the area. He got a shot off and Schalke keeper Manuel Neuer seemed to be on top of it. But his fingertips could not stop the ball from rolling into the net, and 6 minutes in, Munich were up 1-0.
Despite an own goal by Holger Badstuber in the 8th minute to even up the score at 1-1, the Bayern attack was not to be stopped. Robben was fouled minutes later just outside the penalty area. His free kick was purposely hit low to the ground and bounced off legs of a confused Schalke defense. Müller pounced on the free ball and scored his first goal of the match to give the home side the lead they would not relinquish.
And it was Müller who assisted on the next goal. He leapt into the air to direct a pass by Robben over the defense and Neuer, to find an unmarked Gomez who scored his league-leading 24th goal. 3-1 Bayern and it appeared Schalke were slain only 20 minutes in.
(Editor's note: Catch up with 1860 and other Bavarian football clubs in the Weekend Wrap)
Schalke did not have a true shot on goal in the first half and it was only in the 44th minute when they actually developed a possession worth noting.
"I thought we played the excellent for the first 35 minutes," said Jonker who won his second home match as head coach since taking over three weeks ago. "We have tremendous potential and in a position to win every match."
The second half started with Schalke substituting to give key players Raoul and Hans Sarpei rest for the midweek match at Old Trafford.
Bayern continued to control the match but the foot was off the pedal. The only true highlight was Neuer trying to win over his possible future home crowd, stopping any close Bayern attempts, even showing off his cat-like reflexes turning away multiple chances at once. In the 84th minute, Müller could not be denied, finished off the scoring and iced the match.
"It was definitely fun today," said Müller who now has scored 12 goals on the season. "We played great and won, all results went our way and we now sit in third," referring to Hanover 96's loss against Borussia Monchengladbach. Bayern now sit 2 points clear.
The difference in the team from last week's lackluster draw at Frankfurt was easily the return of Robben. He was forced to sit out two weeks for earning a red card after the derby draw in Nuremberg, and was sorely missed.
"He's a very important player for us, the difference is clear when he's in the lineup," stated Jonker. "Along with Ribéry, they offer an extraordinary quality that functions well and drives our team. We all saw the chances that they created."
"That's how we should always play football," said Robben, clearly happy to be back. "I believe that was our best half of the season. We displayed a lot of passion and excitement. Everyone saw, no matter who we play, we can beat anyone."
The key will be for Bayern to keep the momentum developed at home and take it on the road. The club travel to Hamburg on Saturday and take on bottom-of-the-table St. Pauli who have been in freefall the past 10 matches, losing 9 and drawing one.
A win combined with a Hanover draw or loss at Stuttgart clinches a third place finish for the Reds. It's not a title, but at least goal they were striving for the past weeks to prepare for next season.