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CSKA Moscow 0 Bayern 1

Müller seals valuable win from the spot

Bayern’s eventful Champions League trip to Moscow ended with a potentially priceless win on Tuesday evening as the Bundesliga leaders beat CSKA by Thomas Müller’s only goal of the game in a match played behind closed doors due to racist incidents involving the Russian champions’ supporters last season.

Pep Guardiola’s men dominated the first half in the eerily empty Arena Khimki, reverberating only to the cries of the coaching staff and players and the distant chants of a group of FCB fans who enterprisingly rented an apartment overlooking the ground, but the solitary goal came from Müller’s 22nd-minute penalty. CSKA’s attacks were sporadic but dangerous and Roman Eremenko grazed Manuel Neuer’s crossbar on 41 minutes, although the second period was a relatively flat affair as Bayern settled for the hard-earned but fully deserved three points.

The win means the German champions have maximum points from their first two games and lead the Group E standings ahead of Manchester City’s meeting with AS Roma later on Tuesday evening. The last fixture prior to the two-week international break sees the double winners host Hannover 96 in the Bundesliga next Saturday.

Starts for Medhi and Dante

Guardiola made two changes to the side that beat FC Köln at the weekend, as Rafinha and Jerome Boateng were both carrying minor injuries. The pair took seats on the bench but their starting places went to Medhi Benatia and Dante, who both came on as second-half subs at the RheinEnergieStadion last Saturday.

It meant the Bavarians lined up with Neuer in goal, Benatia, Dante and David Alaba in a back three, Xabi Alonso as the organiser and distributor with captain Philipp Lahm and Juan Bernat ahead of him, Mario Götze and Arjen Robben on the flanks, and Müller and Robert Lewandowski up front.

Thomas with the opener

After Scottish referee William Collum got the match underway on a distinctly chilly evening in the north of the Russian capital, the home team showed no inclination to do anything except park the bus and wait for chances on the break, so the visitors saw almost all the possession in a one-sided first period.

Götze fired the first chance over the bar on nine minutes with Robben drawing a good save from seasoned CSKA keeper Igor Akinfeev two minutes later, and although Georgi Milanov tested Neuer after a quarter-hour, the action was mainly at the other end with Alonso firing a free-kick too close to the home keeper.

But the opening goal seemed only a matter of time and duly arrived on 22 minutes from Müller’s clinically-taken penalty after defender Mario Fernandes had clearly tripped Götze in the box. Milanov blasted too high as CSKA finally showed a little enterprise, but the bulk of the chances fell Bayern’s way: Lewandowski netted from a superb move involving Götze and Müller but was ruled half a yard offside, and Akinfeev beat out Müller’s fierce drive.

Leonid Slutskiy’s home team were looking dangerous on the break now and Neuer saved very well from Nigeria regular Ahmed Musa, with Serbia striker Zoran Tosic putting the rebound into the empty stands, before Russian-born Finland international Eremenko struck the crossbar after a corner. But Bayern should really have made it two with the last chance of the half, only for the right finish to elude Robben, Lewandowski and Götze.

Dour second period

Bernat saw his shot deflected into the side-netting, Robben failed to get purchase on a low drive, and Lewandowski was crowded out with the goal at his mercy as FCB opened the second half breezily. But there was danger whenever Slutskiy’s men broke at speed and Tosic fired narrowly wide, before Alonso and Co restored order and the sides neutralised each other for a spell.

The precision was gone on both sides as the game approached the final 15 minutes, with FCB unable to find the penetration from the first half and Neuer comfortably gathering from Tosic, before Xherdan Shaqiri replaced Götze in the 77th minute and Rafinha took over from Robben four minutes later.

The Russians finally attempted a late rally with time running out and that opened up space for Munich, but Akinfeev denied both Müller and Shaqiri in one-on-ones as Claudio Pizarro replaced Lewandowski for the last few minutes.

Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley

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