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Bayern 1 Zenit St. Petersburg 1

Weary Bayern face uphill task after home draw

Bayern have it all to do in St Petersburg next week after a moment of ill fortune handed Zenit a draw in the UEFA Cup semi-final first leg.

The 69,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw the home side’s bright start rewarded with the lead on 18 minutes, Franck Ribery netting the rebound after Zenit keeper Vyacheslav Malafeev saved the Frenchman’s penalty, but Munich failed to make the most of a string of presentable opportunities after that and had to be content with a single-goal margin at half-time.

The Bavarians pushed on after the break, but the pattern of the tie changed dramatically in a nightmare instant on the hour when the unlucky Lucio inadvertently deflected Viktor Fayzulin’s cross past his own keeper to hand the Russians a precious away goal.

Echoes of Getafe

Worse was to come for Munich when Oliver Kahn hobbled off injured on 67 minutes, and although the Bundesliga leaders took the game to Zenit in a frantic closing phase, the technically able visitors were a constant threat on the break in an absorbing second half.

In an eerie echo of the epic quarter-final struggle with Getafe, Bayern now travel for the away leg knowing they must score at least once and avoid defeat in order to stay in the competition and keep alive their quest for an unprecedented treble.

Poldi for Toni, Jansen for Lell

Bayern boss Ottmar Hitzeld kept faith with nine of the line-up which started the German Cup final last Saturday. With Luca Toni serving a one-match ban, the prolific hitman’s place went as expected to Lukas Podolski, while somewhat surprisingly, Marcell Jansen came in at full-back for Christian Lell.

Kahn started the last home fixture of his illustrious European club career behind a back four of Philipp Lahm, Martin Demichelis, Lucio and Jansen, with Mark van Bommel delaying surgery on a broken nose to partner Zé Roberto in central midfield. Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger filled their customary wide positions, with Miroslav Klose declared fit to partner Podolski up front.

Franck rides his luck

Once Slovakian match official Lubos Michel whistled play underway, the Bundesliga leaders went straight onto the attack, Podolski and Schweinsteiger twice firing narrowly wide in the first ten minutes, and only Malafeev’s timely intervention preventing Klose connecting with a Schweinsteiger through ball.

With the pressure incessant at this point, Dutch full-back Fernando Ricksen was tempted into a rash challenge on the onrushing Ze Roberto, prompting referee Michel to book the defender and point to the spot without hesitation. Malafeev kept out Ribery’s poorly-struck penalty, but the rebound fell kindly for the Bayern man and he gleefully tucked away the 18th-minute opener.

Demichelis headed goalwards but it was a routine take for Malafeev, before Zenit skipper Anatoliy Tymoschuk continued a solid display as midfield anchor with a neat challenge to dispossess Klose in the Zenit six-yard box. The striker turned provider with a glorious pass to release Ze for a clear run at Malafeev, but the keeper narrowed the angle well and the Brazilian’s attempted lob drifted wide.

Missed chances

Lucio tested the St Petersburg shot-stopper on the half-hour, but the Bavarian storm blew itself out for a spell and the Russians emerged for the first time, star striker Andrei Arshavin firing over after Konstantin Zyryanov had earlier drawn a save from Kahn. But the last chance of the first half fell to Bayern, and Schweinsteiger might well think he should have done better after an energetic break orchestrated by Podolski.

Pavel Pogrebnyak, second only to Toni with eight goals in the competition so far, fired over from Arshavin’s backheel, while at the other end Schweinsteiger was the first to warm Malafeev’s gloves after the restart. There was a let-off for the home side when Fayzulin dragged his shot wide after 52 minutes, but Bayern responded with their best move of the night, a fine interchange between Ribery and Ze ending with a desperate block to Podolski’s piledriver.

Horror for Lucio

But that was only the prelude to Lucio’s personal nightmare on the hour, the Brazilian unable to avoid Fayzulin’s driven cross and inadvertently nodding past Kahn to level the scores. The lively Russians briefly threatened to tear apart the disoriented Munich defence, before Kahn’s home European swansong ended with the keeper hobbling off on 67 minutes clutching a hamstring to be replaced by Michael Rensing.

Lell replaced Schweinsteiger and young Toni Kroos came on for Lahm as Hitzfeld sought to up the tempo for the last twenty minutes, but Malafeev proved equal to Lucio’s thunderous 79th-minute drive, and there was another major scare for the Reds when Ze was forced to hack clear off the line after Fayzulin’s scuffed effort slithered past Rensing.

There were chances at both ends as Bayern launched a last desperate assault and Zenit threatened on the break, but Podolski arrowed the last clear-cut opening narrowly wide and Malafeev saved from Lucio in stoppage time as the momentum swung to the Russians in advance of next week’s return.

Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley

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