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Farewell bouquet

Professional FCB heap misery on MSV

The champions accepted gifts before kick-off, but handed out none during the game as the home team’s season ended in tears and dismay. In their second match since wrapping up the Bundesliga title, Bayern retained their professional focus to edge out MSV Duisburg 3-2, an eleventh defeat in 17 home fixtures condemning the Zebras to relegation after just a single season back in the top flight.

The MSV board presented Ottmar Hitzfeld with a huge bouquet to mark his final away match as a Bundesliga coach, and manager Uli Hoeneß walked away with a life-sized red-and-white-striped inflatable zebra to mark FCB’s 21st domestic title. However, if the home fans had hoped for a reciprocal present or two on the field of play, they were to be sadly disappointed shortly after kick-off.

Hitzfeld’s sympathy for MSV

Bayern made light of the absence of Franck Ribéry, Luca Toni, Miroslav Klose, Hamit Altintop and Lucio, racing into a 3-0 lead after just 20 minutes through Andreas Ottl (3) and Lukas Podolski (18, 20) to silence the majority of the 31,500 capacity crowd at the MSV Arena. “Obviously we’re down, and we’ll need time to get over it. But you’re relegated over a whole season, it hasn’t suddenly happened to us today,” MSV boss Rudi Bommer reflected afterwards.

“I’m sorry Duisburg and their amazing fans have gone down,” a sympathetic Hitzfeld commented after watching his side’s eleventh away win of the campaign, although the 59-year-old also offered a sobering analysis of Duisburg’s predicament. “They needed to be taking points off other teams. It’s doubly difficult against Bayern.” Turning to his own men, Hitzfeld felt it was “important we continued playing football right to the end. We have a responsibility to the other teams in the league.”

Fair play to all

Bastian Schweinsteiger agreed with the coach. “Credit to us, we played as if there was something riding on the match. We’re trying to be fair to all the other teams. We profited from that once ourselves when Unterhaching beat Leverkusen,” remarked the Germany international, recalling the last day in 1999-2000 when the minnows opened the door for Bayern to take the title.

MSV were not to be so lucky. “I’m sure most people found it unbelievable that we were 3-0 up after only 20 minutes, me included,” reflected Hitzfeld. The patently nervous home side “never came close to their potential in the first half,” argued the General, but MSV “were very good after half-time,” he continued.

Pinball goal

The Zebras were rewarded for their renewed efforts after the break with goals from Mihai Tararache (48) and Markus Daun (53), who beat FCB skipper Oliver Kahn in his final away match with an oddity of a goal. “It was like pinball, it would never normally have gone in,” commented left-back Marcell Jansen, “even Olli was laughing about it. But Duisburg could have had no complaints if we’d scored two or three more in the second half.”

Bayern’s ruthlessness in front of goal before the interval was indeed matched by profligacy in the second half. Jan Schlaudraff, Podolski, Schweinsteiger and Jose Sosa all failed to bury gilt-edged chances or saw efforts saved by the best MSV player on the pitch, keeper Tom Starke, although even he could not prevent the Ruhr club dropping out of the top flight for the sixth time. “The way we played at times today was never going to save us from relegation,” the shot-stopper mused.