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Energie Cottbus 2 Bayern 0

Out-of-sorts leaders humbled by bottom club

Franck Ribery missed a penalty as uninspired Bayern slumped to their second league defeat of term in a dismal display against struggling Cottbus.

A 22,746 full house at the Stadium of Friendship saw arguably the worst half of football the Bavarians have produced all season, neatly summed up by Franck Ribery’s 28th-minute penalty miss.

By contrast it was a very good 45 minutes for the relegation candidates, belying their lowly league position with a neat passing game and deservedly leading 2-0 at half-time courtesy of a well-taken Branko Jelic brace.

Ottmar Hitzfeld made a slew of substitutions in an effort to wake his men from their soporific state, but the league leaders lacked the spark to counter Energie’s clever mix of robust defending and skilled counter-attacking, as a thoroughly off day for Munich ended in an ultimately deserved defeat.

Rotation continues

Hitzfeld maintained his policy of extensive squad rotation, making eight changes to the side beaten by Anderlecht in midweek. Messrs Kahn, Lell, Van Buyten, Zé Roberto, Altintop, Schweinsteiger, Ribery and Toni returned to the team in place of Rensing, Sagnol, Breno, Ottl, Van Bommel, Sosa, Kroos and Podolski.

Van Bommel was in any case sitting out the final match of a Bundesliga ban, with Martin Demichelis ejected from the squad this weekend for disciplinary reasons.

Shock lead

Bayern were handed an early warning when Jelic flicked into the side netting from a Stiven Rivic as Energie had much the better of the opening exchanges. A quarter of an hour had passed before home keeper Gerhard Tremmel was called into action, and even then it was to save a sliced clearance by his own defender Mario Cvitanovic.

But it was only a temporary lapse by the home side as Rivic, increasingly a source of havoc down the right, fed Erwin Skela on the edge of the area after 18 minutes. The Albania international played a simple pass into the six-yard box for the criminally unmarked Jelic to net from close range.

Bayern stirred themselves and threatened with a Lucio shot and a Toni header, but Oliver Kahn was soon in action again, saving expertly from Stanislav Angelov.

Miss from the spot

The Reds’ luck seemed to have turned when referee Thorsten Kinhöfer ruled that Ivan Radeljic had fouled Toni in the area after 28 minutes, but Tremmel – who spent three years at Bayern as a boy – dived to save Ribery’s half-hit spot-kick.

The Bundesliga leaders were still reeling when Rivic released Jelic on 38 minutes with a sublime defence-splitting pass. The Serb, a winter signing from Chinese outfit Xiamen Lanshi, steadied himself before steering his shot past Kahn’s despairing dive to double the lead.

No spark

It could even have been worse if Kahn had not saved well from the goalscorer before the break, when Hitzfeld reacted to the dismal first-half showing by bringing on Jose Sosa for Schweinsteiger, an unhappy presence in the holding role, and Marcell Jansen for Philipp Lahm, never comfortable against the lithe Rivic.

Bayern were marginally better in the second period and enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, but it was a day when the visitors’ individual class failed to tell against highly motivated and tactically well-drilled opponents.

Tremmel saved from Ze and Ribery as most of the action took place around the home box, but the clearest of the chances fell to Cottbus sub Jiayi Shao – and if had not been for Kahn’s brilliance, a bad day could have turned into a severe embarrassment for the Bavarians.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley