Bundesliga: Dazzling Ribery goal seals Bayern win

December 2, 2007

BERLIN, Dec 2 (Reuters) - France midfielder Franck Ribery propelled Bayern Munich back to first place in the Bundesliga on Sunday with a splendid first-half goal in a 1-0 victory in the rain at Arminia Bielefeld.

Ribery gathered a through ball from Italy striker Luca Toni after outracing two Bielefeld defenders. He rounded goalkeeper Mathias Hain at the right edge of the box before powering an angled shot into the vacant goal.

Ribery's goal in the 22nd minute, his fourth of the season, came against the run of play, turned the match around and put Bayern back into first place after Werder Bremen temporarily moved ahead on Saturday with their 2-1 win over Hamburg SV.

Bayern lead the table with 34 points ahead of Werder's 33 and HSV's 30. In Sunday's other match, Ivica Grlic scored in the 71st minute to take MSV Duisburg to a 1-0 win over Nuremberg.

Bielefeld seemed more comfortable at first in the atrocious weather conditions in front of 23,800 rain-drenched fans and thoroughly dominated the first 20 minutes, repeatedly testing Bayern captain Oliver Kahn.

Jonas Kamper was just wide with a crisp free kick in the fourth minute and then forced Kahn to his knees to fist away a dipping long-range blast five minutes later. A Sibusiso Zuma shot in the 20th minute bounced off the right post.

'It was a difficult match and it took us a while to get our rhythm,' Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld told Premiere Television.

'It took a long time but after 20 minutes we finally got going and after we got ahead we didn't let them near our goal.'

Ribery, who was also superb last week in Bayern's 2-1 win against VfL Wolfsburg with one goal and an assist, once again proved he was worth every cent of the Bundesliga record 25 million euros ($37 million) transfer fee in the off-season.

'I'm very pleased,' said Ribery, taking on board the Bielefeld fans' taunts before the match ('Who needs Ribery when we have Kamper'). After scoring his goal, Ribery made mocking gestures to the Bielefeld fans, drawing jeers.

'I wanted to get the three points to take back to Munich,' added Ribery, who has been taking intensive German lessons. 'But you have to hand it to Bielefeld. They played aggressively.'

Bielefeld coach Ernst Mittendorp was pleased despite losing.

'It was an incredibly close match to the final whistle. I'm not at all disappointed. I think we played a fantastic match.'

Bielefeld's keeper Hain was injured in a collision just before halftime with Bayern striker Miroslav Klose. He managed to finish the half but was taken to hospital with concussion.

Hitzfeld said Bayern were hungry to clinch the unofficial 'autumn championship' before the winter break after two more rounds. Bayern dominated the early part of the season before stumbling and allowing both Werder Bremen and HSV back into the race.