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Bayern 6 Aris Salonika 0

Toni bags four as rampant Bayern let rip

Luca Toni struck four times as Bayern handed sorry Salonika a savage mauling to seal top spot in UEFA Cup Group F with something to spare.

The 64,000 who braved sub-zero temperatures at the Allianz Arena saw the home side go two up before half-time courtesy of Toni’s double strike, both of the Italian’s tap-ins following great work by livewire Franck Ribery, but also owing much to dreadful howlers by Greece international keeper Kostas Chalkias.

Comfortable group win

Incredibly enough, the same three men repeated their roles for Toni to complete his hat-trick just after the hour, and the World Cup winner made it four for himself and his team after yet another Chalkias blunder just two minutes later.

The unfortunate Greeks now suffered a terrible pummelling as Bayern worked recent frustrations out of their collective system, Christian Lell and Philipp Lahm making it a half-dozen on the night as Munich finally lived up to their billing as the bookies’ favourites for the UEFA Cup.

The result, combined with Sporting Braga's 2-0 win over Red Star Belgrade in the parallel fixture, means Bayern win the section with eight points from their four games, and will now meet a third-placed finisher from another group in the Round of 32. Braga and Bolton also qualify on six points apiece, with Aris (5 points) and Belgrade (0) eliminated.

Kahn, Lucio and Toni recalled

Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld made three changes to the team held to a scoreless draw in Berlin last Saturday. Captain and keeper Oliver Kahn returned from a club suspension in place of Michael Rensing, with Lucio also restored to the side after a Bundesliga ban at Daniel van Buyten’s expense. Up front, Lukas Podolski gave way to the fit-again Toni.

The Bundesliga leaders opened at a furious pace, Lahm warming Chalkias’ gloves and Lucio whistling a shot past the far post after the keeper, in a portent of things to come, misjudged a corner with just two minutes played.

Miro Klose missed an even better chance after five minutes as Chalkias rushed from his line to parry as the Germany man bore down on goal, the striker's cut-back from the rebound proving just too long for Bastian Schweinsteiger on the edge of the box.

Even opening phase

But the Greek side, dotted with technically adept Spaniards, South Americans and East Europeans, showed flashes of neat and tidy football and gave Bayern an almighty scare on 12 minutes when only Kahn’s outstretched leg prevented Serbian schemer Vladimir Ivic from handing the visitors a shock lead.

The men in red took a while to recover their composure and the next clear-cut opening took until midway through the half to arrive, but it was a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth as Klose, Toni and Mark van Bommel dithered over a loose ball just ten yards from goal.

Ribery had given notice of intent with an audacious volleyed effort just minutes earlier, and the France superstar engineered the breakthrough on 25 minutes with a trademark thrust, shimmy and low cross, although his centre was a shade too close to the keeper. But Chalkias fumbled what should have been a routine take, leaving Toni to gleefully poke the loose ball over the line.

Clear half-time lead

Munich now looked a great deal more comfortable and Ribery fizzed a direct free-kick inches wide of the far post, before the newly-crowned French Player of the Year set up his side’s second in a near carbon copy of the opener.

The cross was in the air this time, the Aris keeper’s blunder arguably even more catastrophic, and Toni finished from a few yards further out, but the end result was the same with the ball nestling in the Salonika net.

Chalkias partially redeemed himself with saves from Ribery and a thunderous Lucio free-kick as Bayern went for the jugular after the restart, and the France star’s exquisite skill almost produced a goal for Van Bommel as the Reds threatened to run riot.

Reds run riot

Andreas Ottl took over from Van Bommel, booked by Israeli match official Alon Yefet early in the match, and Podolski replaced the subdued Klose on the hour, but Bayern had a double whammy of a different sort up their sleeves with two goals in as many minutes to banish any lingering doubts.

The usual suspects were involved on 64 minutes as Chalkias failed to grasp another Ribery cross, leaving Toni to bundle the ball over the line and complete his hat-trick, but a slightly different combination provided the Italian’s fourth. The Aris keeper initially did well to save Podolski’s point-blank header but spilled Lahm’s follow-up and the World Cup winner gratefully accepted yet another gift.

That was that for the match as a meaningful contest, but the unfortunate Greeks felt the wrath of Bayern’s recent frustrations in the Bundesliga as Lell calmly stroked home his first for the club after good work from Ottl and Podolski on 78 minutes, and Lahm brought up the half-dozen with a trademark burst and shot to round off an ultimately thumping victory with nine one-sided minutes remaining.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley