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FC Augsburg 0 Bayern 2

Battling holders see off FCA in cup scrap

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Bayern showed plenty of fighting spirit to defeat robust Bavarian rivals FC Augsburg on Wednesday night and book a place in the last eight of this season’s DFB Cup. The 16-time knockout competition winners were hustled and harried for long spells by the aggressive home team but dug deep and ultimately recorded a merited victory.

The 30,660 full house at the SGL Arena saw Pep Guardiola’s side take a fourth-minute lead through Arjen Robben, but after the worrying sight of the scorer being stretchered off with a bad cut to the knee on 16 minutes FCB were hustled out of their stride by the belligerent home team and the rest of a hard-fought first half was goalless. The cup holders asserted their authority after the break and wrestled the game back under control, with Thomas Müller heading home the decisive second 12 minutes from time.

FCB now join the likes of Dortmund, Leverkusen and Wolfsburg in the draw for the last eight on Sunday. The Bundesliga leaders are back in action the previous day in the away trip to Werder Bremen, before the final Champions League Group D fixture at home to Manchester City on Tuesday 10 December.

Two new faces for FCB

Boss Guardiola made two changes from the 2-0 league success at home to Braunschweig at the weekend, Jerome Boateng returning at centre-back in place of Daniel van Buyten, and Mario Mandzukic taking over from Thomas Müller. Franck Ribery was fit enough for the bench after recovering from a cracked rib.

The treble winners started with Manuel Neuer in goal, Rafinha, Boateng, Dante and David Alaba in defence, Javi Martinez in the holding role, Robben, Thiago, Toni Kroos and Mario Götze in midfield, and Mandzukic at centre-forward.

Robben scores, goes off

Barely more than three minutes after referee Felix Zwayer set the match in motion the holders took a precious early lead through Robben, the in-form winger accelerating onto Mandzukic’ flick from Rafinha’s defence-splitting pass, leaving Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker for dead and firing goalwards. FCA keeper Marwin Hitz blocked, but the Dutch ace kept his cool and ushered the rebound over the line at the second attempt.

The home side had in fact opened brightly with Daniel Baier letting off the first shot of the match, but the opening goal caused FCB to assume command and boss the play for the next quarter of an hour. However, that all changed when Hitz clattered into Robben as the winger – who had already been flagged narrowly offside – chased down a through pass. The keeper saw a yellow card, but the very poor news for the visitors a couple of minutes later was Robben leaving the field on a stretcher, unable to put any weight on his right leg. Müller came on in Robben’s place.

Deprived of their chief creative influence, Guardiola’s men slightly lost their shape and the aggressive home team matched the Bundesliga leaders for a spell. Sascha Mölders headed weakly at Neuer, but the keeper was then forced into a diving save to keep out André Hahn’s drive. Bayern recovered and Götze aimed too high, before Müller had a very good shout for a penalty waved aside when Matthias Ostrzolek appeared to wrestle the Germany striker to the ground. But FCA’s aggression largely stifled the holders attempts at constructive passing and there were no further goals before the break.

Controlled authority

FCB came out after the interval with clear instructions from Guardiola to reassert their authority, and Martinez and Kroos did just that as the passing became crisper and FCA no longer broke up the play so effectively. After half-chances for Götze and Mandzukic, Rafinha released Müller for a precise cross which Mandzukic just failed to convert.

But it was not quite all Bayern as Hahn duped Alaba and fired goalwards from 20 yards, Neuer ultimately making an awkward save look easy. Ribery took over from Götze after 66 minutes and was instantly involved in the action, running half the length of the field before unselfishly looking up and picking out the unmarked Müller, whose control uncharacteristically let him down with the goal begging.

But the striker showed no mercy on 78 minutes when Boateng flipped a loose ball back into the box after a corner and Müller rose just ahead of Mandzukic to nod firmly past Hitz and settle the outcome. In a scrappy and occasionally niggly last ten minutes Neuer saved well from FCA sub Florian Holzhauser and Raul Bobadilla headed over, with Ribery curling a free-kick just wide, as the holders set the seal on a hard-fought but deserved victory.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley