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Bittersweet for Holger

Ten-man Bayern cruise into last sixteen

Bayern marked their 100th home fixture in the Champions League by cruising into this season’s last sixteen as Group F winners with a deserved victory over Greek champions Olympiacos on Tuesday, although it was a bittersweet evening for FCB youth product Holger Badstuber, who returned to the starting line-up after a seven-month absence but saw a straight red card early in the second half.

The 70,000 full house at the Allianz Arena were treated to the sight of Douglas Costa, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller blasting the home side into a three-goal lead with only 20 minutes on the clock. The men in red had the match fully under control, and despite Badstuber’s 53rd-minute dismissal, added a fourth through Kingsley Coman with 20 minutes to play. It could even have been more but Müller struck the post with the last kick of the game.

With Arsenal overcoming Dinamo Zagreb in the parallel fixture, the result from Munich means the Reds are uncatchable at the top of Group F on 12 points, for although the second-placed Greeks can still theoretically draw level, FCB easily win the head-to-head comparison. The Bavarians are back in action on Saturday at the Arena in the Bundesliga clash with Hertha Berlin.

Four new faces

Pep Guardiola made four changes to the team from Saturday’s hard-earned victory away to Schalke, with Jerome Boateng, Rafinha, Badstuber and Coman coming into the side for Mehdi Benatia, Javi Martinez, Xavi Alonso and the injured David Alaba.

It was unusual to see Rafinha begin at left-back rather than over on his favoured right flank, but the really big and heart-warming news was Badstuber’s long-awaited return to the starting line-up.

The home team began with Manuel Neuer in goal behind a back four of Rafinha, Boateng, Badstuber and captain Philipp Lahm, with Arturo Vidal taking up station in the holding role. The potent attacking unit comprised Arjen Robben, Müller, Costa and Coman, with Lewandowski up front.

Whirlwind opening

After Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson whistled the match underway on a chilly night in Munich with temperatures hovering around freezing, Guardiola’s men were soon on the attack and took an eighth-minute lead when Boateng unleashed a swerving 25-yard drive which visiting keeper and captain Roberto could only parry, Costa reacting fastest and firing a low shot over the line off the inside of the far post.

Müller’s shot was deflected wide but the Bundesliga leaders kept up the pressure and went two up after 16 minutes when Coman cut inside from the right and tried a shot that ended up as a neat through pass for Lewandowski, the Pole controlling with a single touch before cracking the second past Roberto with power and precision.

The men in red were on a roll and increased their lead just four minutes later, Coman’s miscued volley from Lahm’s cross looping to Robben at the far stick. The winger unselfishly headed back across goal where the unmarked Müller tapped home from close range.

There was a moment of concern for the Reds after 32 minutes when Robben, although not obviously injured, signalled a problem to the dugout and gave way to Joshua Kimmich. FCB lost their Dutch superstar but not the momentum with Vidal and Coman both going close, although the final chance of the half was actually the visitors’ first serious shot at goal, a Luka Milivojevic free-kick past Neuer’s left-hand post.

Controlled second half with ten men

The first chance of the second half fell to Kimmich only for the youngster to see his goalbound shot blocked, but Badstuber’s evening turned sour in the 53rd minute when the defender was red carded for a foul as last man on Nigerian danger man Ideye Brown. Guardiola reacted to the setback by sacrificing Lewandowski in favour of centre-back Benatia, but FCB still pushed on and Costa twice came close, whipping a free-kick into the side-netting and coming up just short in a one-on-one with Roberto.

Brown lofted a shot over Neuer’s bar as the Greeks sought to exploit their one-man advantage, but the next goal fell instead to the German champions, Coman nodding past Roberto from Müller’s lay-off and taking a hefty blow to the face from the flailing keeper for his trouble.

The French starlet was able to continue, with Costa now giving way to Martinez for the last 20 minutes. FCB still went for goal, but Müller mishit his effort after a fine Coman solo, Kimmich was thwarted with only Roberto to beat, and Müller's effort at the death hit the post as the home team eased into the last sixteen without undue difficulty.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley