Created on 02-10-2013 at 22:35 PM
Composed and clinical Bayern ended Manchester City's five-year unbeaten run at home in Europe on Wednesday night and took a giant stride towards their target of winning Champions League Group D with a fully merited 3-1 away victory, although the Premier League side did stage a late rally and FCB finished with ten men after Jerome Boateng's sending-off.
The 47,000 capacity crowd at Etihad Stadium, including a noisy 2,500 travelling contingent, saw Franck Ribery fire the visitors into a handy seventh-minute lead, and the Premier League team spent long spells chasing shadows as the Bavarians passed crisply and retained possession with some ease through to the break.
Bayern turned the screw after the restart as Thomas Müller and Arjen Robben netted a quickfire brace around the hour to put the Germans in the comfort zone. City sub Alvero Negredo pulled a goal back with ten minutes to go, and Jerome Boateng was dismissed against his former club for a professional foul in a frantic finish, but the men in red held on to claim three deserved points.
With CSKA Moscow beating Viktoria Plzen 3-2 earlier in the evening, the result means Bayern go top of Group D on six points from their two games so far, with City and the Russians level in second on three points each. In the final match before the next international break, Pep Guardiola's men travel to face Leverkusen in the Bundesliga on Saturday evening in the eagerly-awaited clash between the teams in third and second.
Müller as lone striker
FCB boss Guardiola made one change to the team that beat Wolfsburg 1-0 in the league last weekend, bringing Toni Kroos into midfield in place of Mario Mandzukic and handing the strike duties to Müller. Mario Götze took a seat on the bench alongside Mandzukic.
It meant the European champions lined up 4-1-4-1 with Manuel Neuer in goal, Rafinha, ex-City man Boateng, Dante and David Alaba in the back four, Philipp Lahm as the midfield anchor, Kroos and Bastian Schweinsteiger in the central area, Robben and Ribery on the flanks, and Müller as the lone striker.
Blues supremo Manuel Pellegrini, who went into the match with a record of no victories over a Guardiola-coached team in seven attempts in Spain, made four changes to his line-up compared to a 3-2 defeat to Aston Villa last weekend, including an all-new right wing combination with Micah Richards and Jesus Navas, and Sergio Agüero in behind former Wolfsburg centre-forward Edin Dzeko.
Franck's early strike
Once Dutch referee Björn Kuipers whistled play underway on a mild night in the north-west of England, FCB created the first chance after just three minutes when Alaba raced to the by-line and crossed, but Robben steered a free header wide of the target. At the other end, Richards failed to get power behind a header from a corner, but the travelling support erupted in the seventh minute when City keeper Joe Hart made a hash of Ribery's 25-yard strike and Munich had a precious early lead.
Guardiola's team knocked the ball about confidently for a spell, Kroos shooting once too close to Hart and once just off target, and Alaba lashing a drive past the upright. Robben was crowded out and Ribery's cut-back found no takers, but Navas did cause a moment's uncertainty in the FCB defence with a darting run on the half-hour.
Muller came up inches short of connecting with Robben's driven cross and Hart beat away Alaba's thumped drive as Munich continued to boss possession, but the Reds shifted down a gear with half-time approaching and were content to sit on their lead.
Double strike seals it
Pellegrini's men came out after the interval with the fires burning and forced a series of corners. Dzeko's overhead kick drifted wide, but FCB were soon back on the attack and Robben's 54th-minute shot was deflected narrowly wide. The second goal that had seemed inevitable finally arrived two minutes later when Muller sprang the offside trap and ran onto Dante's lofted pass, the Germany international coolly rounding Hart and slipping the ball into the empty net.
The holders' joy became elation on the hour when Robben turned Matija Nastasic inside out down the inside right channel before smacking a rising shot past Hart and into the top corner to make the score 3-0. Hart pushed out Robben's next low effort, before Neuer had a save to make from Navas, and Hart redeemed himself with a fine block from Kroos on a Bayern counter-attack.
City heads went down for a while and FCB slowed to a stroll, but there were still frequent chances for the laid-back visitors, Muller striking a post after 76 minutes from inside the box. Jan Krichhoff and Xherdan Shaqiri took over from Schweinsteiger and Robben for the last quarter of an hour, but Negredo handed the home side a glimmer of hope after 80 minutes with an excellent shot on the turn across Neuer and in at the far corner. Gotze took over from Ribery after 84 minutes, but there was another twist when Boateng saw a straight red card for a foul as last man on Yaya Toure. Sub David Silva hit the bar with the ensuing free-kick and Negredo headed wide, but the Bavarians ran down the clock on an impressive win.
Chris Hamley reporting from Etihad Stadium for fcbayern.de