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First start for Franck

Ribéry hits the ground running

Franck Ribéry prowled and probed down the left flank as if he had never been away. The Frenchman finished with 101 touches of the ball, 72 percent success in his challenges and a goal to top it all off, making him one of the most influential players in the 3–1 victory away to Hamburg that sent the DFB Cup holders through to the last 16 of this season's competition. Observers unaware of the background would never have known it was Franck's first start for Munich since April 2014 and that his sum total of playing time this term amounted to four brief substitute appearances. Ribéry literally hit the ground running.

“I'm very pleased with his performance,” enthused Pep Guardiola. Ribéry  proved a fast starter on his return, as every single one of his 28 passes in the first half found a team–mate, an impressive achievement. “Let's not forget how long he was out injured,” said Guardiola. Ribéry has been struggling for months with persistent knee problems, “but he played really well,” the FCB boss continued.

Happy Guardiola

“It wasn't easy for me,” admitted the 31-year-old, although he was more than satisfied with his evening’s work: “The team played well, and so did I!” The coach confirmed that opinion: “Franck was very dynamic.” Ribéry scored the crucial third goal to put the result beyond doubt after 55 minutes, “although I had a bit of luck,” he confessed on reviewing his deflected effort, “but it was a super goal for me and the team.”

Franck also refused to be knocked out of his stride on the stroke of full-time when a pitch invader made a beeline for him. “I didn't see him coming,” revealed Ribéry, admitting he was “a bit annoyed” in the aftermath of the incident. But the smile returned to his face a short time later: “It's nothing too bad.” Much more importantly, the skilled superstar was still on the field at the final whistle, as Guardiola noted: “I'm delighted he managed the full 90 minutes.”