FC Bayern beat 1. FC Köln 3-1 on Saturday. The hosts dominated proceedings in the first half, Niklas Süle deflecting a Christian Clemens cross over his own line, but Bayern showed their true colours after half-time, James and Robert Lewandowski turning an entertaining contest around. Sub Corentin Tolisso twisted the knife with a quarter-hour to go.
The Bavarians started with Sven Ulreich between the sticks and Joshua Kimmich, Süle, Mats Hummels and Rafinha in a back four. Javi Martínez anchored a midfield featuring Thomas Müller, Sebastian Rudy, James and Franck Evina, with Lewandowski as lone striker.
Jupp Heynckes made four changes to the XI that started against Madrid on Tuesday. Rafinha, Martínez, Rudy and youngster Evina took over from David Alaba, Tolisso, Thiago and Franck Ribéry. Thiago replaced Evina at half-time, Tolisso and Wagner taking over from Müller and Lewandowski after 75 minutes.
Billy Goats spring a surprise
After referee Bibiana Steinhaus whistled play underway on a glorious spring afternoon in Cologne, the hosts went onto the front foot, Ulreich proving equal to a Simon Terodde effort. A Martínez cross soon found Müller at the far stick, but the captain's first touch let him down. Martínez miscued a header, but Terodde connected with a cross at the other end, glancing his header over the bar. Simon Zoller soon ghosted past the rearguard, firing inches wide with only Ulreich to beat, Marcel Risse blasting over the crossbar a few minutes later.
Lewandowski drew a fine save from netminder Timo Horn. Just when it looked as if Bayern had taken control, Köln open the scoring, Süle deflecting a Clemens cross, the ball sailing into the net via the inside of the post. Bayern went looking for a reply, Müller testing Horn before Lewandowski latched onto James' delicate chip, Horn performing miracles to deny the striker, and Steinhaus blew for half-time.
Dominance after half-time
Bayern upped the pressure after the restart, Horn proving to a Lewandowski effort, the charging Terodde ruled offside at the other end. Bayern slowly but surely strangled Köln with possession, and the equaliser duly arrived when a Müller header invited James to tap in from point-blank range.
Only two minutes later the champions took the lead. Rafinha found Müller in the box, who laid off to Lewandowski, the Poland international smashing home from eight yards. James invited sub Tolisso to add his name to the scoresheet before Ulreich shone with a strong save against former FCB man Claudio Pizarro, and Steinhaus blew for full-time.
The result takes Bayern onto 84 points from 33 matches. The Reds are back in action next Saturday, when they entertain VfB Stuttgart. Bayern will be looking to seal the double on 19 May, when they entertain Eintracht Frankfurt in the DFB Cup final.
Greg Salmen reporting from the RheinEnergieStadion for fcbayern.com
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1. FC Köln
T. Horn - J. Horn, Maroh, Heintz - Risse, Höger, Koziello, Hector - Clemens (Jojic 82), Zoller (Cordoba 71) - Terodde (Pizarro 79)
Kessler, Osako, Pizarro, Özcan, Sörensen, Jojic
Ulreich - Kimmich, Süle, Hummels, Rafinha - Martínez - Müller (Tolisso 74), Rudy, James, Evina (Thiago 46) - Lewandowski (Wagner 77)
Starke, Mai, Götze, Dorsch
Bibiana Steinhaus (Langenhagen)
0-1 Süle (30, og), 1-1 James (59), 1-2 Lewandowski (61), 1-3 Tolisso (78)
Zoller / -