Bayern show 'great character' to extend winning run

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There was a celebratory mood after the final whistle at the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne. The travelling Bayern fans hailed their side, whose 3-1 win over 1. FC Köln was their sixth victory in a row and 27th in the Bundesliga this season. Meanwhile, the supporters of the Billy Goats, whose relegation was confirmed last weekend, gave their team a standing ovation after a spirited performance against the record champions in their last home game before dropping down to the second tier.

“Everyone hopes that it’s only a year until Köln are back in the Bundesliga,” said Mats Hummels after the match. “They belong in the Bundesliga. I hope they get back up quickly. I’d like to play here a few more times.” Coach Jupp Heynckes also hopes “that they can regroup and storm back into the top flight. Playing in a stadium like this is special for every player.”

Champions League hangover

Heynckes was only partially pleased with the performance of his charges. “After the intensity of Tuesday’s game, it wasn’t easy to switch back to Bundesliga mode,” lamented Heynckes. “Köln played well and made life difficult for us. We didn’t have any real chances.” The Bayern boss was referring in particular to the first half, during which the hosts created several good opportunities and took a half-time lead thanks to a unfortunate own goal by Niklas Süle.

“The first half obviously wasn’t up to our usual standards,” analysed Joshua Kimmich. “That shows we’re human, though. We felt the physical effects of a tough game on Tuesday. And mentally it’s a bitter blow if you look at the manner in which we lost against Madrid.” Hummels also pointed to the exit in the Champions League semi-final four days before. “It’s not something you can put to one side in two or three days.  We wanted to but it’s not that easy. We had to fight through it at first.”

Bayern show ‘great character’

The Reds then managed to do that in the second half as goals from James, Robert Lewandowski and Corentin Tolisso turned the game in their favour. “We said to ourselves: we’re FC Bayern and we want to win every game,” explained captain Thomas Müller. “The second half was better in terms of our play and our chance conversion. Overall the win was deserved even though we were a bit sloppy in the first half, especially at the start,” continued Müller.

“We showed great character in the second half and the team showed what they’re made of,” said Heynckes in praise of his side, who “performed completely differently” than they did in the first 45 minutes. “We dictated proceedings, created chances and took them. It was important to win this game and continue our run,” added the 72 year-old after his final Bundesliga away game as coach.

“The boys played some really good football in the second half, had lots of good chances and saw the game through confidently,” declared sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic following the success in Cologne. And Müller is now looking forward to the final two weeks of the season: “We have two days off now and can catch our breath a bit. We have two games left, one of which is very important. Our approach will be the same as it has been in recent weeks,” concluded the Germany international before signing off for the weekend.

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