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FC Köln 0 Bayern 2

Classy Reds ease to victory in Cologne

Bayern made it a one-two in less than a week against the Bundesliga’s promoted clubs with a fully merited victory away to FC Köln on Saturday, stretching their lead at the top of the standings and warming up nicely for Tuesday’s challenging Champions League trip to face CSKA Moscow.

The 50,000 full house at the RheinEnergieStadion saw the visitors boss the first half from the off and take a deserved 19th-minute lead through Mario Götze. More chances followed but there were no more goals before the break, and it took until the 67th minute before Daniel Halfar turned the ball over his own line to double the visitors’ advantage, although the scoreline barely did justice to the emphatic nature of the champions’ victory.

A fourth win of the campaign means Pep Guardiola’s men have 14 points from their six league games so far, cementing their position at the top of the Bundesliga table. Following the trip to the Russian capital in just three days’ time, FCB bring the frantic fall period to a close at home to high-flying Hannover 96 on Saturday 4 October, before the league action takes a back seat for the next two-week international break.

Recalls for Rafinha and Bernat

Guardiola made two changes to the team that put four without reply past SC Paderborn on Tuesday, with Juan Bernat and Rafinha coming in for Sebastian Rode and Dante. The Brazilian centre-back, Mehdi Benatia and Claudio Pizarro took seats on the bench, but the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribery and Thiago were still sidelined with injury.

The visitors lined up with Manuel Neuer in goal, a flexible defensive unit comprising Rafinha, Jerome Boateng, Juan Bernat, Xabi Alonso, David Alaba and captain Philipp Lahm, an attacking midfield trio of Arjen Robben, Thomas Müller and Götze, and Robert Lewandowski at centre-forward.

Mario breaks the deadlock

After referee Knut Kircher whistled play underway on a beautiful autumn afternoon in the Rhineland, Bayern quickly wrestled control of the midfield area and carved out the first chance on seven minutes, but Müller found only the side-netting. Mr Kircher had already waved away Robben’s convincing shout for a penalty but the winger was buzzing from the off and laid on half-chances for Müller and Rafinha.

FCB’s dominance was total and the inevitable opening goal arrived after 19 minutes. It owed a lot to Rafinha’s persistence in hounding Halfar and forcing the Köln midfielder into an error, from which Müller crossed and Lewandowski air-kicked, but Götze slotted home at the back stick. Guardiola’s men kept up the pressure, Lahm spooning a shot over the bar, and home keeper Timo Horn saving expertly from Müller, Alaba and then Robben before the half-hour was up.

Peter Stöger’s side had shown nothing up to that point but Neuer was suddenly called into action on 34 minutes with an extraordinary double save at point-blank range from Adam Matuschyk and Anthony Ujah after Halfar had swung over a dangerous cross from the left. The Reds raced up the other end and Lewandowski’s shot was blocked, before Jonas Hector tried his luck against Neuer from long range but struck only the stanchion behind the goal.

Dominant for 90 minutes

Matuschyk warmed Neuer’s gloves with a snapshot from a corner in the first chance after the restart, but FCB were soon on the attack and Müller’s 53rd-minute effort was deflected over for a corner. Presumably with an eye on Tuesday, Guardiola then made a double substitution on 55 minutes as Dante and Benatia replaced Boateng and Müller.

The visitors continued to probe and had another shout for a penalty turned down on 65 minutes when Miro Brecko appeared to handle in the box, but the second goal arrived some 120 seconds later when Götze exploded down the right channel and supplied the reverse pass, Halfar turning the ball over his own line under pressure from Alaba.

Horn palmed away Alonso’s daisy-cutter but the home side’s resistance was broken and Munich were content to keep possession for a spell. Xherdan Shaqiri replaced the outstanding Robben for the last 15 minutes as Alanso and Co ran down the clock on a deserved and professional victory.

Chris Hamley reporting from the RheinEnergieStadion for