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Luca the battler

Never-say-die Toni trusts his instincts

Luca Toni’s evening at Getafe’s Coliseum Alfonso Perez hardly began well. The striker inadvertently prevented a Franck Ribéry shot from entering the net just seconds into the game, and had a goal disallowed for handball after eight minutes. Ribéry also had an effort chalked off on 49 minutes for a Toni foul in the box.

However, the apparently out-of-luck striker was destined to become the hero of the night, netting twice in the last five minutes of extra-time to save Bayern’s UEFA Cup skins. “We’re through because we have Luca Toni, a fighter with a huge heart,” commented Ottmar Hitzfeld, grateful to the Italian for preserving his side’s triple ambitions. “Toni never gives up and is a born winner.”

Scorer and provider

Speaking after the final whistle, Toni had less to say about himself and more about “an unbelievable match. Personally, I believe we deserved to get through. Taking both games together, we simply created more chances,” commented the 30-year-old, who also provided the assist for the 89th minute Ribery strike which sent the tie into extra time.

Across the evening, the Italian World Cup winner battered away at the Spaniards’ packed defence, seeing any number of shots deflected away from danger by desperately hurled bodies. But the player refused to be downhearted, and was in exactly the right place to pounce when Getafe keeper Roberto Abbondanzieri spilled a routine take on 115 minutes, allowing the big striker to roll the loose ball into the empty net. Five minutes later, he headed a José Sosa cross past the Getafe shot-stopper to make the final score 3-3.

In pole position

“The ball came from nowhere and I basically hardly saw it, I just instinctively headed at goal,” Toni reflected after taking his total in the competition to ten and moving clear at the top of the scoring charts. “It was the kind of cross where you might fail to connect 100 times in training, but it came off in this critical situation.“

In the two-legged tie as a whole, Toni was involved in all four of Bayern’s goals against Getafe, himself netting in the 1-1 draw at the Allianz Arena. He now has 29 goals in 38 appearances this term, and looks set to claim the Bundesliga top scorer crown, where he leads the way with 16 goals. The Italian unquestionably earned the celebratory attentions of Oliver Kahn (picture) at the final whistle.