City win match, Bayern win group

Posted by Susie Schaaf

Bayern Munich took an early 2-0 lead over Manchester City courtesy of Thomas Mueller and Mario Goetze, looking to come out Group leaders with a perfect 18 points. Manchester City pulled one back with David Silva's close-range strike after half-an-hour, but the wheels came off for the home side in the second half, and City hung two more on Bayern -- captain Aleksandar Kolarov with a penalty, and a James Milner (!) strike just minutes later.

Despite the loss, Bayern still goes through to elimination rounds in top spot, although that may not have been the case as City coach Manuel Pellegrini was unaware of the goal differential. Not realising he'd only needed one more to send Bayern to Pot 2, he would leave Sergio Aguero on the bench -- looking ahead to their Arsenal showdown this weekend.

- Curtis: Pride in battle

It was a dream start for Bayern, as the opening spell gave an air of the last time these two squads met. City defender Joleon Lescott opened the match in gross mis-communication with goalkeeper Joe Hart, as they could only watch a loose ball go just wide of goal. Minutes later, Dante made his best play of the day with a lovely diagonal for Mueller. Playing in Arjen Robben's right-wing spot, Mueller collected well, beat the trap and slotted low past Hart.

Pep Guardiola sat stone-faced on the bench.

Dante got close to adding the second minutes later from a Toni Kroos free-kick; as would Franck Ribery -- striking the upright while in close quarters with Hart -- but it would be Wunderkind Mario Goetze to double the lead after service, in traffic, from Mario Mandzukic.

But where the opening was all Bayern, the tides quickly turned as what was a great defensive start for Munich turned quickly sour as David Alaba would spend the rest of the match making Jesus Navas look like a world-beater. Navas got past Alaba, and crossed to Milner who thumped a volley that got a reaction save out of Neuer.

Ribery would absolutely own Pablo Zabaleta, and Neuer would again pull "a Neuer" -- coming way out of the box to head out of danger -- before City scored their opener. Navas got past Alaba (a re-occurring theme of the match), crossing to Milner (again, a theme) who headed back in to the box to Silva who moved on Dante, bundling home past Neuer.

Zabaleta continued to foul Ribery, as the Frenchman took on former Bayern teammate Martin Demichelis -- only a last-ditch tackle from Lescott saved what could have been a third, before the squads traded yellow cards. Dante saw yellow for a slight tug on Navas' shirt which Edin Dzeko repaid two minutes later -- his studs in to the Brazilian defenders' outstretched leg.

Goetze again got close -- finding himself in a one-on-one situation with Hart -- before Milner fouled him for another City yellow card.

The second half opened with no changes to Bayern's Startelf, although I and the rest of the Bayern Twitterverse were clamouring for Javi Martinez to replace a highly ineffective Thiago Alcantara at single pivot. I have said it before, and I will say it again: He is not ready for that role yet. Offensively, yes. Defensively, no way.

There were several instances in this match that he wouldn't tackle, or looked hesitant. And with Bayern's defence failing across the board? An enforcer was very badly needed.

Dzeko forced a diving save from Neuer at the post before Guardiola finally brought in Martinez. Only problem was Goetze -- who was having a perfectly lovely match -- came out instead of Thiago.

Dante was soon judged to have brought down Milner in the box as referee David Borbalan pointed to the spot. And Kolarov made no mistake, sending Neuer the wrong way. Milner would again be in on things minutes later, as Jerome Boateng pantsed a clearance; letting the ball flow directly to the Manchester midfielder who struck the bottom corner-- just one unwitting goal away from topping the group.

Some back-and-forth followed with neither side really able to penetrate as Dante's horrific lapse of concentration allowed Alvaro Negredo to get through, but Neuer would save the one-goal loss, Pot 1, Dante blushes... everything.

The last time Bayern lost a competitive match was to Arsenal in last year's Champions League Round of 16. But, that was the match that put boots-to-bottoms; spurring the team on to ultimate treble winning glory after taking a hearty look at themselves. Perhaps this is that match.

And I know Matthias Sammer will lead the way.


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