Created on 06-03-2008 at 00:00 AM
Bayern can safely start planning for the UEFA Cup quarter-finals after running riot away to outclassed Belgian champions RSC Anderlecht.
Hamit Altintop silenced the home majority in the 21,500 crowd at the compact Constant Vanden Stock stadium in Brussels with a 25-yard thunderbolt to hand Munich the perfect start after just nine minutes, but Thomas Chatelle rattled a post midway though the first half as RSC finally made a fist of it.
But the home cause was dealt two fearful blows a minute before half-time. First, Anderlecht were reduced to ten men when Marcin Wasilewski saw two yellow cards in quick succession, before Luca Toni twisted the knife with Bayern's second in stoppage time.
The big Italian will miss next week's return after collecting a third booking of the tournament, but that looks increasingly unlikely to matter after Lukas Podolski netted his fifth of the tournament from a trademark Franck Ribery break just short of the hour.
A touch of Ribery magic set up sub Miro Klose to tap in the fourth ten minutes later as Belgian heads went down, before the France star rounded off a fine individual display with an exquisite free-kick four minutes from time.
Six new faces
Never a believer in the adage of not changing a winning team, Ottmar Hitzfeld made six changes to the side which beat Schalke at the weekend, a line-up which itself featured half-a-dozen new faces compared to the previous game.
With the fixtures coming thick and fast, and the next Bundesliga task at home to Karlsruhe less than 48 hours away, Oliver Kahn and Marcell Jansen were rested, with Franck Ribery, Miroslav Klose and Christian Lell starting on the bench, while injury accounted for Ze Roberto and Lucio.
Michael Rensing deputised in goal, with Willy Sagnol and Philipp Lahm at full-back, and Martin Demichelis restored to central defence alongside Bayern's solitary Belgian, Daniel van Buyten. Mark van Bommel and Andreas Ottl completed the defensive shield, with Podolski joining Bastian Schweinsteiger and Altintop in support of lone striker Toni, as the Bavarians lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Once Portuguese match official Olegario Benquerenca whistled play underway on a chilly night in the east of Brussels, the sizeable and noisy Bayern contingent in the crowd was soon on its feet celebrating Altintop's thumping opener as the visitors assumed lazy command against the visibly shell-shocked home side.
The Bavarians were nonchalantly knocking it about and invariably arriving first to the challenge, but any notion Hitzfeld's men might have had of a training ground stroll was dispelled when Chatelle cannoned a shot off Rensing's far post after good work down the flank from Serhat Akin.
The men in violet enjoyed a decent ten-minute spell and crosses pinged either side of Rensing's goal, but Munich slowly reasserted their authority as Van Bommel and Podolski forced RSC keeper Daniel Zitka into action.
Demichelis then showed immense cool to control and clear as an angled ball from that man Chatelle bobbled dangerously in front of a vacant net, but the match took a decisive turn against the home team in a frenzied couple of minutes at the end of the first half.
Reds in driving seat
Wasilewski had only just gone into Mr Benquerenca's book for upending Schweinsteiger, before the defender lost his rag with the combative Toni and received his marching orders as both players saw yellow for tussling. It looked a harsh decision, and the Anderlecht players had barely finished protesting when Lahm swung over a deep cross for Toni to volley Bayern 2-0 ahead with Zitkas rooted to the spot.
Ribery and Klose replaced Schweinsteiger and Toni as the visitors prepared to kill the tie, but it was RSC who came out fighting as the lively Guillaume Gillet whipped a ball into the side-netting. But with the ten Belgians committed forward, Ribery had acres of space in which to exploit his skills on the break, charging two-thirds of the length of the field before superbly setting up Podolski to rifle home the third on 57 minutes.
The fourth came ten minutes later and was even better, Lahm releasing Ribery for the Frenchman to wriggle his way into the six-yard box and square for Klose to tap home the fourth. Ribery capped an outstanding individual display with a tremendous direct free-kick four minutes from time to seal a result confirming Bayern's status as favourites for the UEFA Cup this season, provided they accomplish the relative formality of completing the win over RSC in Munich next week.
Chris Hamley reporting from the Constant Vanden Stock stadium for fcbayern.de