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Bayern 3 CSKA Moscow 0

FCB cruise to victory over toothless Russians

Bayern launched their 2013/14 Champions League campaign in the best possible manner on Tuesday night with a supremely comfortable 3-0 victory over toothless Russian double winners CSKA Moscow. Defending European champions Munich have now won their last ten group stage opening games in a row, but CSKA are still looking for their first victory on Champions League Matchday 1 in seven attempts.

The 68,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw David Alaba hand the holders a dream start with the opening goal after just three minutes, before Mario Mandzukic crowned a half of Bayern dominance with a headed second four minutes from the break. The home team engaged cruise control for a long spell in the second half, but Arjen Robben made sure the scoreline reflected the balance of play with the third goal midway through the second half.

With Manchester City cruising to a 3-0 win away to Viktoria Plzen in the parallel Group D fixture, the victory in Munich means Bayern go joint top of the section with the English Premier League side, who they travel to face in the second round of matches two weeks from now. Pep Guardiola’s men return to domestic action on Saturday in the challenging trip to fellow Champions League hopefuls Schalke.

Dante in for Daniel

Bayern boss Guardiola made one change to the team that beat Hannover on the same ground three days ago, restoring Dante at centre-back in place of Daniel van Buyten, and continuing with Philipp Lahm in central midfield and Rafinha at right-back. Thiago, Mario Götze, Javi Martinez and Holger Badstuber missed out with injury, but a strong home bench included Bastian Schweinsteiger, Xherdan Shaqiri and seasoned warrior Claudio Pizarro.

The champions of Europe took the field with Manuel Neuer in goal, Rafinha, Jerome Boateng, Dante and Alaba in the back four, Lahm and Toni Kroos alternating in the holding position, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery out wide, and Thomas Müller in behind central striker Mandzukic.

Russian cracks CSKA arrived in Munich as domestic league leaders with 20 points from eight games and no defeats this term, but coach Leonid Slutsky was unable to field a full-strength side after losing Swedish international Rasmus Elm and designated playmaker Alan Dzagoev to injury. The team in all white still featured strong individuals including Japanese star Keisuke Honda, Swiss midfielder Steven Zuber, and Russia national team keeper Igor Akinfeev.


Alert David, deadly Mandzu

Once Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi whistled play underway on a pleasant early autumn night in the Bavarian capital, the home side set off at a cracking pace and took a third-minute lead when Alaba picked himself up from a foul and arrowed a direct free-kick through Akinfeev’s hands from fully 30 yards.

The Russians were bemused by Bayern’s high-tempo attacking play in the early exchanges, and Akinfeev redeemed himself after seven minutes with a fine block to deny Mandzukic from close range. Ahmed Musa shot wide from a rare CSKA break, but Mandzukic soon came close from an Alaba cross, before the busy Rafinha hit the side-netting with 20 minutes on the clock.

Slutsky’s men settled midway through the half and neutralised the home side for a spell, 19-year-old starlet Vitinho even drawing a save from Neuer on 34 minutes. But that only served to energise Guardiola’s troops, Ribery having a good shout for a penalty waved away and Mandzukic directing a header off the inside of Akinfeev’s far post and into the keeper’s hands.

The big Croat soon added his name to the scoresheet, powerfully heading home Robben’s whipped free-kick on 41 minutes to make it a comfortable 2-0 to the Bundesliga giants at half-time.

Arjen’s strike makes it safe

Akinfeev was soon back in action with a brave block from Robben’s volley four minutes after the restart, the keeper then reacting well to claim a deflected shot by Bayern’s Dutch winger. Bayern did only the necessary for a lengthy period now, but CSKA were in no position to pose a realistic threat and it was only a question of when the holders would shift up a gear again.

This the home side did after 68 minutes, Alaba controlling Ribery’s cross with his back to goal, turning on a sixpence and flipping a delicate lob to Robben, who took the ball on his chest and crashed home the third goal.

With the points now in the bag, Schweinsteiger replaced Kroos, Pizarro took over from Mandzukic, and Shaqiri came on for Robben in the closing stages. The pace had died by now but FCB remained alert, Shaq shooting straight at Akinfeev, Pizarro netting but being called back for offside, Shaqiri glancing Müller’s cross a hair’s breadth wide of the far post, and Neuer making his first tough save of the night when sub Tosic smacked the last kick of the night goalwards.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley