Bayern lose to Urawa but Podolski impresses on debut

July 31, 2006
By Alastair Himmer

SAITAMA, Japan, July 31 (Reuters) - German champions Bayern Munich suffered an early set-back to their pre-season with a 1-0 defeat by Japan's Urawa Reds on Monday.

Germany striker Lukas Podolski took some of the sting out of Bayern's failure to sign Ruud van Nistelrooy with a lively debut but the visitors were undone by a late Teruaki Kurobe goal.

'Podolski showed why he is so valuable,' Bayern coach Felix Magath said. 'He has only been back in training for a few days but he was very dangerous.'

Podolski was a constant threat and twice came close to scoring only for Bayern to run out of steam late in the game.

Bayern only arrived in Japan on Sunday following a 13-hour flight but Podolski looked sharp from the start, the ex-Cologne striker shaving the bar with a 29th-minute header.

Podolski, whose goals helped hosts Germany reach the World Cup semi-finals, then forced a superb save from Reds goalkeeper Norihiro Yamagishi with a powerful header after 56 minutes.

'He had two or three good chances and that's all you want from a striker,' said Magath. 'When he has had a few more weeks of training you will see the best of him. We have high hopes.'

Japan midfielder Shinji Ono gave Bayern goalkeeper Oliver Kahn an early scare when he curled a left-foot shot against the post from the edge of the box.

As tiredness crept into the Bayern players' legs Urawa forward Kurobe snatched the winner with a close-range header three minutes from time.

'We have been on holiday for three weeks so it's no real surprise we were tired,' said Kahn. 'But when the new Bundesliga season starts we will be in top form.'