Created on 25-03-2008 at 00:00 AM
One has 21 winners’ medals from his time with Bayern, the other has yet to taste trophy success at club level. One is a few months short of ending an illustrious playing career, the other is in his prime. One prevents goals, the other scores them. Oliver Kahn and Luca Toni appear to have little in common, except for their ability to win matches at opposite ends of the park.
In Saturday’s meeting with Leverkusen, Toni’s 34th appearance for Munich, the Italian opened the scoring for the 13th time this term. He also scored the only goal of the reverse fixture last autumn. “It’s no coincidence,“ Ottmar Hitzfeld reflected, “Luca’s always on the scene in the penalty area. He’s ruthless and has an amazing nose for goal.“
Lahm’s assist, Toni’s goal
Toni struck again on the hour to make it 26 goals for the season and 16 in the Bundesliga, where he is once again out on his own as leading scorer. “Obviously I’m counting the goals,” he declared, “my job is to keep scoring and help the team win the Bundesliga and a Cup or two.“
The 30-year-old praised provider Philipp Lahm. “At half-time, I told him I’d like to score with my head and asked for his help,” the striker revealed. Twelve minutes after the restart Lahm duly served up an inch-perfect cross for the Italian to nod home.
Kahn called into action
Toni was suspended in midweek “so he was totally fired up for Saturday,“ Hitzfeld reported. The prolific marksman has made the leading scorer crown his declared target, “but also to please the team and the fans. I hope I can keep it up, or the club will start complaining!“
Toni will have gone home in good spirits on Saturday, and so will Kahn. The Bayern skipper had a relatively quiet afternoon, as Bayer only managed four shots at goal – although one of them called for Kahn to use every inch of his 6 ft 2 in frame. The keeper had already dived to his right for Bernd Schneider’s 29th-minute drive, but Sergej Barbarez applied a hefty deflection from less than ten yards out. Kahn still managed to keep out the near-unstoppable effort with the tip of his left boot.
Like a young ‘un
“It was a spectacular situation,“ Kahn reported, “it was deflected but I somehow got a foot to the ball.“ The reaction save was not all down to good fortune, the shot-stopper insisted. “If you work and train properly, you make your own luck in that kind of situation.“ Mark van Bommel emphasised the importance of the save at a time when Bayern were only 1-0 up: “It would have been a completely different game if Leverkusen had equalised before half-time.“
Even in his final season as a pro, the 38-year-old’s hunger for medals remains undiminished. “Oliver’s having a fantastic season with no errors. He played like a 25-year-old today,“ Uli Hoeneß beamed. The general manager’s words were later reported back to the keeper. “What does he mean by ‘today’?“ the veteran quipped.