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Friendly in China

Reds lose lively Guangzhou clash in shootout

Bayern rounded off their successful tour of China with a goalless draw against Guangzhou Evergrande in the Audi Football Summit on Thursday, the serial Chinese champions emerging as the nominal 5-4 winners on penalties. FCB had enough chances to win a high-octane friendly in front of a 38,000 crowd at Tianhe Stadium, but Thomas Müller missed the best of his side’s openings and then also saw his penalty saved by home keeper Cheng Zeng in the shootout.

“We can cope with the defeat, although we’d obviously rather have won in view of the Supercup next week,” keeper Manuel Neuer said after the penalty decider. The Bayern number one was already on the touchlines at this point having given way to reserve shot-stopper Ivan Lucic at half-time.

Pep Guardiola made six changes to his line-up compared to the 1-0 friendly victory over Inter Milan two days ago. Rafinha, Joshua Kimmich, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Sebastian Rode, Mario Götze and Sinan Kurt started the game, with Mehdi Benatia, Xabi Alonso, Philipp Lahm, Douglas Costa, Thiago and Thomas Müller on the bench at kick-off.

On a sultry evening with the relative humidity at 94 percent, the visitors initially struggled for the fluency they had shown in their two previous friendlies. FCB were the dominant team and pinned their opponents back for long spells, but a heavy pitch made it hard for Munich to play their usual crisp passing game.

Hojbjerg had a golden opportunity to open the scoring on six minutes but the 19-year-old placed a free header wide of the target from five yards out and then saw a smart shot saved by Cheng Zeng. However, the Chinese champions were dangerous on the break and Manuel Neuer saved from Robinho, Gao Lin and Ricardo Goulart in quick succession.

The home team, currently deep into their league campaign and looking fit and fresh, restricted the visitors to half-chances after that. Rode and Hojbjerg tried their luck from long range but the sides went in at half-time with no goals scored.

FCB began the second half with Lucic, Lahm, Thiago, Costa and Steinhart in the team, Müller and Alonso also entering the fray later on. The pattern of the contest remained the same as Bayern continued to press, Costa and Müller both going close around the hour mark. At the other end Lucic made a good save to deny Gao Lin on 66 minutes after the striker raced clear on goal. 

Guangzhou also brought on a raft of second-half subs and failed to pose a serious threat before the end, but Müller twice and Costa just failed to hit the target in the last ten minutes. The game went straight to a shootout, where Müller was the only man not to score.