presented by
Bayern 4 VfB Stuttgart 1

On-fire Bayern poised to claim league title

Increase font size Text size

A sensational second half display saw Bayern move to within a point of sealing the Bundesliga title in a fine win against outgoing champions Stuttgart.

A 69,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw Bayern open brightly and take a deserved eighth minute lead through Luca Toni, but Antonio da Silva levelled on 20 minutes with a deflected free-kick as the champions fought back and more than held their own until half-time.

However, the champions-elect were unstoppable in the second half as Mark van Bommel restored the lead from a free-kick, before substitute Franck Ribery fired a world-class brace in the space of just sixty seconds with 15 minutes remaining to banish any lingering doubts and take the leaders to within a point of a 21st domestic title.

Six changes for FCB

Ottmar Hitzfeld had announced a round of rotation and duly made six changes to the team held by St Petersburg in midweek. Michael Rensing deputised for Oliver Kahn, ruled out with a back problem, with Christian Lell, Andreas Ottl, Luca Toni, Daniel van Buyten and Willy Sagnol coming in for Philipp Lahm, Franck Ribery, Lucio, Zé Roberto and Lukas Podolski.

Once referee Florian Meyer had whistled play underway on a fine spring afternoon in Munich, the home side were first to show as Lell and Sagnol combined down the right, but Toni came up inches short of the ensuing cross.

But Bayern did not have to wait long for the lead, as Mark van Bommel made a second burst forward down the flank on eight minutes. VfB centre-half Matthieu Delpierre sought to clear but succeeded only in laying the ball off for Toni, who gratefully accepted the inadvertent gift to slot home his 36th goal of the season.

Reds pegged back

However, the goal seemed to inspire the visitors and top scorer Mario Gomez warmed Rensing's gloves for the first time on 17 minutes. The Germany international fired in left-footed from the edge of the box, but the Bayern keeper comfortably fisted clear.

The shot served as a warning the Bavarians failed to heed as da Silva levelled two minutes later, the Brazilian's direct free-kick taking the slightest of deflections off van Bommel's head and sailing past the helpless Rensing.

Ottl lead the fightback after 27 minutes with a sublime trick to outwit Osorio before rifling goalwards from 16 yards, but Stuttgart keeper Raphael Schäfer made a routine save. The action switched to the other end and Rensing was on hand to deal with Yildiray Bastürk's curler, before Gomez beat Demichelis for speed but slightly overhit his cross to da Silva.

Mark on target

There was a minor let-off for the Reds after 34 minutes when Roberto Hilbert's cross-cum-shot landed on the crossbar, but both defences held firm after that and the sides turned round with the score deadlocked at 1-1.

The sides jousted for the advantage after the restart, and Toni beat Tasci in the area on 51 minutes only to whistle his shot just past the upright, before Hilbert drove over Rensing's goal from a decent shooting position.

But Bayern soon gained the upper hand and Klose was unfairly impeded just outside the box after 55 minutes, opening the way for van Bommel to blast the indirect free-kick past the poorly-composed wall an into the net, edging Bayern into a 2-1 lead.

Fantastic Franck

Ze Roberto replaced the goalscorer and Ribery came on for Sagnol as Hitzfeld sought to shore up the slender lead, but Pardo and Bastürk both tested Rensing as the dethroned champions indicated they would not give up without a fight.

However, the home defence was now providing a solid platform to absorb Stuttgart's attacking efforts and launch dangerous moves of their own, leading to Ribery's stunning brace within a minute on 75 and 76 minutes.

First, the France star charged through the middle of the park and let fly, the ball arrowing into the corner for a truly world-class strike, before the midfielder collected Rensing's downfield punt, leaving Osorio and Delpierre for dead with a cunning backheel and slotting home left-footed to make it 4-1.

Schäfer thwarted Podolski in a one-on-one situation with five minutes remaining, and the striker was guilty of another glaring miss a minutes later, but nothing could alter the fact that the Reds were deserved winners in a game which surely saw the new champions run up a fine win against the last year's winners.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley