Created on 25-08-2007 at 00:00 AM
Bayern maintained their perfect start to the season at home to Hannover 96 on Saturday, although victory came at the price of another injured star.
The customary 69,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw a bright opening from both sides, before the home team gradually assumed control and took a deserved 28th minute lead through Luca Toni.
However, the jubilation at the big Italian's third goal in three games was short-lived as the striker injured a thigh in the act of scoring and was unable to play any further part in proceedings, deepening coach Ottmar Hitzfeld's already substantial injury woes.
Marching orders for Lala
The visitors went a man as well as a goal down on the stroke of half-time when Altin Lala was dismissed for a second bookable offence, and Bayern duly laid siege to keeper Robert Enke's goal in the second period.
The Bavarians were a shade careless with their chances until Mark van Bommel arrowed a snap shot into the far corner on 68 minutes, and with Franck Ribery turning in another sparkling display, Hamit Altintop belted a spectacular third from fully 20 yards as the home side avenged a shock defeat in the corresponding fixture last term.
The result sees Bayern consolidate their lead at the top of the embryonic Bundesliga table with maximum points after three games, two clear of early pursuers Bielefeld and Bochum. Moreover, the Reds have scored ten but have yet to concede in a blistering opening to the 2007-8 campaign.
Solitary change, solitary striker
The depth of the injury crisis at Bayern, with Willy Sagnol, Miroslav Klose, Marcell Jansen, Jose Ernesto Sosa, Lukas Podolski and Jan Schlaudraff all unavailable, led to Hitzfeld naming only five substitutes.
The single change to the team which beat Bremen so imposingly last weekend was the introduction of Altintop to a five-man midfield supporting lone striker Toni, although the Reds scored three goals in the second half last Saturday using exactly the same formation after Klose's half-time departure with a stretched ligament.
Once referee Thorsten Kinhöfer had whistled proceedings underway on a glorious late summer afternoon in Munich, the teams wasted no time in going for goal. The visitors answered a pair of Martin Demichelis headers with Hanno Balitsch's stinging drive, although Bayern were left cursing their luck when Toni nodded Ribery's seventh minute cross against keeper Robert Enke's upright.
The home team steadily increased their dominance after the quarter-hour mark and were rewarded on 28 minutes when Altintop fed Bastian Schweinsteiger, the Germany man delivering a superb pass for Toni to advance into the box and drive past Enke from 12 yards.
The Italian's joy swiftly turned to anguish as it became clear he had hurt himself when scoring, and he hobbled off clutching his hamstring just two minutes later to be replaced by young Sandro Wagner.
Hannover down to ten
The reserve striker was in the thick of it at once, although his name went into Mr Kinhöfer's book for an over-eager challenge on Thomas Kleine. The match official had already noted Altin Lala's name and number after the combative Hannover midfielder tangled with Ribery, and Lala did his side no favours at all when he clipped Ze Roberto's heels in the final minute of the first half, earning a second booking and his marching orders.
Ze had been a real livewire in the period leading up to the break, twice shaving the post with angled drives, and the Brazilian continued to prompt and probe as the Reds battered away at Enke's goal after the restart, only for Altintop, Wagner, Ribery and Ze himself to be denied a potentially decisive second.
Mark seals outcome
But just as the crowd had resigned itself to a nerve-tingling closing phase, the missing goal arrived on 68 minutes when Van Bommel smote home from the inside-right channel past Enke's despairing dive.
Hannover sub Chavdar Yankov became his side's sixth player to go into Mr Kinhöfer's book, before Altintop rounded off another highly satisfactory afternoon in Munich with the spectacular third from Ze Roberto's assist four minutes from time.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley