Created on 15-09-2007 at 00:00 AM
Bayern’s lead at the top of the Bundesliga is down to a single point after disciplined Schalke scrapped their way to an away draw on Saturday.
The 69,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw Franck Ribery-inspired Munich dominate the first half hour, but clear-cut chances for Christian Lell and Luca Toni went begging, and Ivan Rakitic administered the punishment with Schalke’s first-ever goal at the new Munich stadium on 36 minutes.
The visitors seized the initiative through to half-time and the Reds were grateful to Oliver Kahn for a massive save from Rakitic as the 19-year-old Croatia starlet shaped to send the home side in at half time two goals adrift.
Tiredness takes its toll
The leaders instead drew level nine minutes after the restart when Miroslav Klose mopped up a rebound for his sixth goal in his last six competitive outings, but a clutch of the stars began to look heavy-legged after their midweek international exertions and the game ultimately petered out before the final whistle.
The draw, combined with results from around the grounds, means undefeated Bayern continue to lead the standings on 11 points from five matches, but lie just one clear of early pursuers Bielefeld and Frankfurt.
Unlucky Hamit starts on bench
The build–up was dominated by the prospect of an Altintop family duel between twin brothers Hamit and Halil of Bayern and Schalke respectively, but in the event neither Turkey international started the match.
For the home side, FCB boss Ottmar Hitzfeld reverted to a 4-4-2 formation after Toni reported fit, squeezing Hamit out of a midfield berth. The only other change to the side held by Hamburg two weeks ago was the introduction of Marcell Jansen for the injured Philipp Lahm.
Schalke’s Halil lost his place to coach Mirko Slomka’s brave decision in opting for a three-man front line comprising Gerald Asamoah, Keven Kuranyi and Peter Lövenkrands, but the visiting strikers were spectators in the opening phase as the men in red pummelled their opponents’ goal.
Toni twice came close and had the ball in the net only to be adjudged offside before Ribery rifled wide, but the storm abated for a spell before Lell miskicked with the goal at his mercy after Ribery and Toni had combined superbly midway through the half.
With Ribery tormenting his marker Jermaine Jones and Klose causing occasional havoc in the box, the best chance fell to Toni on 34 minutes when the Italian diverted an excellent Mark van Bommel centre just inches wide of the near post.
At the other end of the field, Rakitic had already found too much room for comfort in targeting a shot and a header goalwards, and the playmaker exploited acres of space in front of him to advance and blast past the unsighted Kahn and hand the visitors a shock 36th minute lead.
Kahn and Klose to the rescue
Schalke held the upper hand now and Kuranyi skilfully released Rakitic to run at Kahn a minute before the interval after nicking the ball off Bastian Schweinsteiger’s toe, but the keeper bravely spread himself to rescue the situation for his team.
Bayern emerged for the second half in much more determined mood and were rewarded for a spell of intense pressure when Klose nodded home the rebound after S04 keeper Manual Neuer parried Toni’s powerful header on 54 minutes.
Meandering to the finish
Schweinsteiger drove just wide and Neuer flapped at the next cross from the Germany man before redeeming himself with a good take from Jansen's follow-up shot, but the sides were beginning to treat each other with great caution now and the brothers Altintop duly appeared for their respective teams with twenty or so minutes remaining.
Lukas Podolski replaced the tiring Toni for what turned out to be a scrappy closing phase, Christian Pander’s driven free-kicks causing a moment or two of confusion in the Bayern box and Hamit Altintop arrowing a drive past Neuer’s post, before Schalke captain Marcelo Bordon just failed to connect from close range.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley