Created on 01-03-2008 at 00:00 AM
Miro Klose's early strike handed Bayern a deserved first-ever victory at the Veltins Arena in an entertaining encounter with game but limited Schalke.
The 61,482 full house put up a deafening volley of sound under the closed roof at the Veltins Arena, but Klose silenced the Royal Blue majority with the 14th minute opener after superb work on the left by Franck Ribery. Bayern had much the better of the chances in an open first half after that but failed to press home their advantage before the break.
The visitors maintained the initiative after the restart, but Daniel van Buyten crashed a header off the bar on the hour and Schalke were stung into a response, pounding away at Oliver Kahn's goal in a sustained spell of late pressure. But the impressively disciplined Bundesliga leaders stood firm and were always closer to a second than Schalke were to equalising.
Lahm, Poldi, Ze and Willy rested
With a schedule of four matches in the next eleven days, Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld made no fewer than six changes to the side which battled through to the last four of the Cup in midweek.
At full-back, Christian Lell came in for Willy Sagnol and Marcell Jansen took over from Phillip Lahm, with fit-again Martin Demichelis assuming the holding role for the suspended Mark van Bommel.
In attacking midfield, Bastian Schweinsteiger stood in for Ze Roberto, with a welcome return for Ribery on the left in place of Toni Kroos. Finally, Klose was restored to the team in place of Lukas Podolski, who like Lahm was not even part of the matchday squad.
Miro back on the goal trail
Heiko Westermann and Ivan Rakitic loosed off warning shots as the home side made their customary furious start at home to Bayern, but S04's Manuel Neuer was the first of the keepers to make a save as Ribery cut inside and fired goalwards with 12 minutes played.
The visitors were ahead just 120 seconds later, moving the ball at speed for Ribery to again torment full-back Rafinha and cut back from the by-line, where Klose was waiting to apply the finish.
The Germany international almost doubled his and his side's tally from a slick break engineered by Hamit Altintop and Ribery, before Luca Toni netted from an offside position as the leaders enjoyed a good spell. But Daniel van Buyten and Toni came up inches short from probing Schweinsteiger crosses, and the Royal Blues almost bagged a shock equaliser on the half-hour when Lucio deflected Westermann's 20-yard effort narrowly wide with Kahn wrong-footed.
Better chances for Reds
Schalke rallied briefly and forced a series of corners, but the Reds were soon back in the driving seat and Klose rattled a header off Neuer's bar, although the striker was ruled offside. The best chance of a second before the break was initiated by Demichelis' superlative ball from inside his own half, switching wings to Lell in space on the right. The full-back found Ribery close to goal, but Westermann and Neuer combined to smother the danger.
Fabian Ernst fired in the first shot of the second half as Schalke sought a response, but Ribery replied with superb thrust into the box and a delicate lob which drifted a shade wide of the far post. The Bavarians poured forward in search of the decider, but Neuer reacted brilliantly to deny Toni from Altintop's cross, Van Buyten directing the follow-up header onto the bar from just a couple of yards out.
Munich sat back a little now and the men in royal blue swarmed round Kahn's goal for the last twenty minutes, maintaining a spell of pressure but failing to create anything truly clear-cut. Andreas Ottl replaced Ribery 12 minutes from time as Hitzfeld sought to shore up the win, but Kahn was forced into a decent take after Rafinha muscled his way into the area.
Carlos Grossmüller's free-kick sailed over the bar, but at the other end Bayern sub Jan Schlaudraff almost wrapped things up with a diving header and the excellent Lell brought a diving save from Neuer as the leaders ran down the clock for their first-ever win at the Arena.
Chris Hamley reporting from the Veltins Arena for fcbayern.de