Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bayern Crush Woeful Leverkusen

In a match which looked set to be exciting, Bayern put pay to any lingering Bayer Leverkusen title hopes, with a crushing victory.

Going into this match, all the talk was about the two managers, with Andries Jonker taking over at Bayern for the period between Van Gaal's exit and the arrival of Leverkusen manager Jupp Heynckes in the summer. Conspiracy theorists will argue that it was in Heynckes' interest to have Bayern win, the job would be slightly less desirable next season without Champions League football.

However, it would be hard to see a title chasing team lie down in a match of this importance but, suspiciously, it was an own goal that opened the scoring for the hosts.

Just eight minutes in, Frank Ribery swung in a corner which was flicked on at the near post by Bastian Schweinsteiger before being headed into the Leverkusen net by Bayer captain Rolfes. Clearly distraught, Rolfes trudged back to the half way line with the rest of his team mates, but inside he must have been leaping with joy, the fix was off to an auspicious start.

If suspicions of foul play hadn't been rife after the first goal, they were certainly rife after the second. Facing his own goal, Leverkusen star man Arturo Vidal (coincidentally, a rumored transfer target for Bayern) attempted to back heel the ball clear, a bizarre maneuverer, expertly read by Muller who fired a dangerous ball into the six yard box which was tapped home by Mario Gomez. 2-0 up, Munich were cruising and it seemed only a matter of time before they found a third goal.

Needless to say, all accusations of a match fix are highly asinine, and even the most ardent of conspiracy theorists would struggle to use the third goal as further evidence. Lively all day, Muller bursted  into the penalty area before sliding a ball across the box which was met at the far post by a grateful Mario Gomez.

Amazingly, the first half goalscoring wasn't done for Bayern, deep into first half stoppage time, a ball from Schweinsteiger was received on the corner of box by striker Mario Gomez, who took a touch before slamming the ball past Adler. On two goals, Gomez must have been eying a hat trick, but even he wouldn't have expected it to come so soon after the conversion of his second goal.

That Gomez striker proved to be the final kick of the half, and the half time whistle was greeted by cheers of celebration from the joyous Bayern support, who must now be looking forward to the 2011-12 season.

The second half produced a much improved Bayer Leverkusen side, the one that watchers on have become accustomed to seeing over the course of the 10/11 Bundesliga season. Despite being so far behind, Leverkusen managed to muster up enough energy to put the Bayern Munich goal under pressure, and on sixty-one minutes the pulled a deserved goal back.

A ball hoofed into the box was met by striker Erin Derdiyok who, due to some slack Bayern defending, was able to retrieve his own header, and fire a fierce volley past the returning Hans Jorg Butt. Butt was under the spotlight in this one, having been reinstated following Van Gaal's departure, but the German keeper had no chance in keeping Derdiyok's strike out.

Bayer were starting to dominate, but any hopes of a come back were ended when, with fifteen minutes to go, a Ribery-Van Buyten one-two on the edge of the box released the French winger who made no mistake with his finish into the corner. Any Bayer title hopes were beginning to fade away, the second placed side now faces quite a battle if they are to haul back Borussia Dortmund in the weeks to come.

That Ribery effort proved to be the last of the match, and though both teams came close to adding to the scoring, the result was never in doubt.

The Bayern win has propelled them into the third and final Champions League qualification spot, ahead of Hannover 96 who dropped two vital points yesterday. Further up, Dortmund have moved eight points clear, after their 3-0 win over Freiburg coupled with Leverkusen's defeat all but guaranteed them the Bundesliga crown.

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