Created on 07-12-2013 at 17:20 PM
Bayern’s imperious winning run came to a temporary halt on Tuesday night as Pep Guardiola’s side fell 3-2 at home to Manchester City in their final Champions League Group D fixture, but a one-goal advantage in the head-to-head comparison was enough to ensure the Bavarians finished top of the section ahead of the Premier League outfit.
The 68,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw the home team dominate from the off and make a dream start with goals from Thomas Müller and Mario Götze in the first 12 minutes, but the Bundesliga side shifted down a gear and David Silva pulled one back after half an hour. The pace dropped through to half-time, but City were a different proposition after the break and captain Aleksandar Kolarov levelled from the spot on the hour. England international James Milner then handed the Premier League side a 62nd-minute lead, and for all their efforts, FCB were ultimately unable to prise apart the visitors’ packed defence and stave off the defeat.
The result means the Champions League holders have completed Group D with 15 points from their six matches, level with City but in first place by one goal. FCB will now be paired with one of the group runners-up in next Monday’s draw for the first knockout round, and will play the first leg of the last sixteen tie away from home. The Bavarians are back in action in their final Bundesliga match of the year at home to Hamburg on Saturday, before the focus turns to the Club World Cup in Morocco.
Lahm and Dante return
Guardiola made two changes to the team that thrashed Werder Bremen 7-0 at the weekend, captain Philipp Lahm returning from a two-game absence in place of Rafinha at right-back, with Dante restored to the side at the expense of ex-City man Daniel van Buyten. Javi Martinez, Claudio Pizarro and Xherdan Shaqiri began on the bench.
The holders started with Manuel Neuer in goal, Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Dante and David Alaba in defence, Thiago in defensive midfield, Franck Ribery and Müller out wide, Toni Kroos and Götze in the centre, and Mario Mandzukic at centre-forward.
Manuel Pellegrini’s City side featured former FCB stalwart Martin Demichelis at centre-back, with the line led by ex-Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko and former Hamburg youth Vincent Kompany in reserve.
FCB’s explosive start
After referee David Fernández Borbalán whistled play underway on a chilly but dry evening in the Bavarian capital, Bayern immediately went on the attack and took the lead after just five minutes, Müller chesting down Dante’s glorious raking pass over the heads of the City defence and guiding the ball past Joe Hart in the visiting goal. Hart saved Dante’s flicked header from a Kroos free-kick and beat out Ribery’s near-post drive, but after the Blues’ defence failed to clear their lines from the ensuing 12th-minute corner, Götze was on hand to prod home the loose ball and make it two.
Milner forced Neuer into a fisted save on the quarter-hour after a first City raid, but FCB were soon back on the attack with shots from Mandzukic and Kroos. The pace dropped midway through the half, allowing the crowd to enjoy the skills of Ribery and Co, before Fernandinho ushered in City’s first spell of pressure with a shot over the bar, and Milner was left unmarked to head a Navas centre back across goal for Silva to apply the finishing touch and open the visitors’ account on 28 minutes.
Chances were few and far between for a spell until Götze drew a good near-post save from Hart two minutes from half-time, before Boateng’s superb pass and Mandzukic’ intelligent flick played in Müller, only for Demichelis to block.
After a cagey opening to the second half, the first chance of the second period fell to Dzeko, but Neuer got down smartly to save. Javi Martinez replaced Götze after 55 minutes with Thiago stepping forward into a more attacking role, but there was a setback for FCB after 58 minutes when Dante felled Milner in the box, Mr Borbalán pointed to the spot, and Kolarov sent Neuer the wrong way to level the scores.
Bayern’s woes deepened on 62 minutes when Milner capitalised on sloppy home defending, striking a smart shot across Neuer and in off the far post to hand the visitors an unlikely lead. Mandzukic gave way to Shaqiri on 69 minutes, but Guardiola’s men struggled to create chances against the packed Blues defence.
Munich forced a string of corners as the game entered its final quarter-hour, only for Jolyen Lescott and Demichelis to head every high ball clear. There was danger at the other end in the 80th minute with Neuer saving from sub Alvaro Negredo, and referee Borbalán waved away a good shout for a penalty when Ribery tumbled in the box, but at the end of the day FCB were forced to settle for the narrow defeat and the consolation of the group win.
Chris Hamley reporting from the Allianz Arena for fcbayern.de