Allianz Arena, Munich - FC Bayern defeated Cologne 3-0 despite being down a man for most of the match and head into the Bundesliga winter break on top of the standings.
In the 30th minute, Franck Ribéry took exception to the rough play by Cologne's Henrique Sereno in front of goal and when referee Guido Winkmann did not react, Ribéry got in Sereno's face and the both had words. Their action earned them both yellow cards, but Ribéry was not satisfied. He kept talking to Sereno, who approached the Bayern star, and Ribéry headbutted him slightly. That was enough to earn a second yellow and thus a red card. His team would now have to play the rest of the match down a man.
"I'm not proud of my red card. But that's football, it happens," admitted a remorseful Ribéry after the match. "It was a mistake. Next time nobody can provoke me again."
Which was a shame at the time. The French international was the most active, three early shots on goal and constantly attacking. And if a full-strength Bayern could not penetrate an obviously defensive Cologne - who were playing at least five men at the back - it was going to be a quite a task for the final hour.
The rest of the half continued as before - the Bavarians now running a toothless attack against a Billy Goat defense content on not conceding the powerful Munich offense any shot on goals. If there were going to be any goals, it come when the visitors would make a mistake. And in the second half, they did.
Pedro Geromel let a pass go through him, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk took over possession, fed it to a streaking Thomas Müller, drawing the defense and goalkeep Michael Rensing to him, and feeding Mario Gomez. The goal was inviting for the opening goal, 1-0 three minutes at the restart.
In the 63rd minute, Toni Kroos' corner went through SEVEN Cologne defenders to an unmarked David Alaba who had no trouble beating former Bayern keeper Rensing. 2-0.
At times in the second half, it felt like it was Cologne who were playing down a man. One can only imagine if the German record champs played at full-strength. And they decided to wrap up the first half of the season and gift the fans with one more goal.
Substitute Ivica Olic streaked down the left side, passed if off to Alaba, the ball found it's way through the porous Goat defense over to Kroos, who chipped it into goal. The damage was done and over.
Bayern will officially start their holiday break after their DFB Pokal (German Football Association Cup) match at VfL Bochum on Tuesday.
Transfers rumors have already started, and Bayern management were asked after the match who was coming and who was going.
"We won't change the team in the winter, that's agreed with the management," stated Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. "Nobody will join, nobody will have to go. The squad will be the same. We are top of the table, Fall Champions, and further on in the Champions League. We are satisfied with the team."
But he clarfied their goals for 2012. "We want to be the Bundesliga champion. The Champions League is a big dream of the team and of the fans, but we are thinking step-by-step. Now we will give Basel respect, even if we are the favorite."
Dennis Müller contributed to this article.