A second-half goal from Mario Mandzukic handed Bayern Munich a 1-0 win over die-hard Czech champions Viktoria Pilsen that granted the holders a spot in the Champions League knockout phase here on Tuesday.
The Croatian striker capitalized on a cross from Philipp Lahm, sending a powerful header past a diving Pilsen keeper Matus Kozacik in the 65th minute, only six minutes after coming onto the pitch.
Bayern have made it to the last-16 for the sixth time in a row, accompanied by Group D runners-up Manchester City who beat CSKA Moscow 5-2. Bayern sit at the top of Group D with 12 points from four games, leading City by three points and CSKA Moscow by nine, with Pilsen stuck at the bottom with no points.
Bayern dominated the early minutes of the game as David Alaba forced a diving save from Pilsen's Slovak keeper Matus Kozacik from a free kick. Bastian Schweinsteiger hit the post with a low curling shot in the 16th minutes and Kozacik stopped several good shots that got past the solid Pilsen defense.
Outshot 35-0 by Bayern in a 5-0 trashing in Munich two weeks ago, Pilsen vowed a braver performance in the home game and made good on the pledge as they put the Bundesliga leaders under some pressure half an hour into the game. But Milan Petrzela sent a powerful left-footer just over the bar and Daniel Kolar followed suit with a header.
The hosts seemed to lose steam as Bayern almost scored three minutes after halftime but Lahm's shot was cleared by Pilsen defender Marian Cisovsky off the goal line. Daniel Van Buyten sent his header past the Pilsen goal and Kozacik denied Franck Ribery's shot from close range before clearing another effort by Lahm a minute before the end. But Pilsen did not give up and with 15 minutes left, striker Stanislav Tecl first forced a dive from Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer and then missed a perfect pass a few feet from a gaping net.
Bayern started with Mario Götze on the right wing replacing an injured Arjen Robben while Diego Contento replaced Dante in the Bayern backline. Pep Guardiola sent Mandzukic and Javi Martinez into the game with an hour gone to boost the Bayern offence, and the move made all the difference.
In the third match day of Group D of the Champions League,
defending champions Bayern Munich hosted the newcomers Viktoria Plzen from the
Czech town Plzen, famous for its Pilsener Urquell, and currently second place in the Czech Gambrinus Liga. Bayern have won their first two games against
Moscow and Man City where Plzen had to concede to both. A clear outcome
predicted on paper.
Guardiola made a few changes on Saturday's Bundesliga match against Mainz: Van Buyten and Contento started in centre back fro Dante and Boateng, who had to sit out a game due to his red card from the Man City match, Müller got a break, while Ribéry and Alaba were back in the starting lineup: Neuer – Rafinha, Van Buyten, Contento, Alaba – Lahm – Robben, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Ribéry – Mandzukic were the starters in the 4-1-4-1 formation.
Bayern started pressing right from the beginning and Plzen had little counter-pressuring to show for and were sitting deep inside their half, hoping for a bad day from the Munich juggernaut. Bayern were able to create a number of chances within the first ten minutes and by mere luck Plzen kept their goal clean.
In the 25th minute Robben was fouled inside the box and the referee pointed towards the penalty spot. Now several things came together: last weekend in the Bundesliga versus Mainz, Robben wanted to take the PK as well as Müller, but Guardiola pointed towards Müller and later said “I am the coach and decide who takes PKs” and Sammer said on Monday that Müller and Alaba are the PK takers; now Robben has scored in five consecutive Champions League games and is one away from equalizing Cristiano Ronaldo's record of six. Ribéry hence offers the ball to Robben to keep the streak going, but the Dutch striker, obviously still perturbed from the rejection on Saturday refuses to take the ball. So PK-Gate continues? As long as these little kids games just remain off the pitch and don’t spill over into the team chemistry, it’ll be fine. But this was rather odd, since Alaba, the number 2 PK taker was playing and supposedly first in line to take the PK. Very confusing. Ribéry nonetheless converts the PK against Plzen goalkeeper Kozacik.
I am just glad the tussle for the PK didn't end up like this:
A double by Franck Ribery inspired Champions League holders Bayern Munich to a predictably easy 5-0 win over pointless Czech opponents Viktoria Pilsen in their Champions League group match on Wednesday. Ribery, who had been wisely rested for last weekend's Bundesliga match because of a sore ankle, scored either side of half-time while impressive Austrian fullback David Alaba and Bastian Schweinsteiger also got on the scoresheet.
Bayern started brightly pressing forward and Ribery went close with an effort that was well saved by Pilsen goalkeeper Matus Kozacik. The 29-year-old Kozacik was Pilsen's busiest player, called into action again shortly afterwards as 21-year-old Alaba let fly from the edge of the area.
The Czech 'keeper was fortunate as he failed to catch the ball cleanly but there was no Bayern player in close to take advantage. However, the pressure finally told in the 24th minute as Arjen Robben went down under a crude challenge by Czech international central defender Roman Hubnik and Ribery made no mistake from the spot.
The hosts should have doubled their lead two minutes later as Mario Mandzukic beat his man only to shoot straight at Kozacik, but he proved more effective as a provider in the 37th minute as his knockdown set up Alaba, who beat a defender and fired home. Kozacik may have been unable to stop that effort but he pulled off a stunning reflex save from a close range Robben header shortly before the break to keep the scoreline respectable.
Bayern didn't let up in the second-half -which this season has seen them perform better in that period than in the first much to coach Pep Guardiola's displeasure- with Ribery getting his second in the 61st minute. Schweinsteiger scored their fourth three minutes later, turning neatly inside the area after receiving a pass from Mario Götze, who had just come on for Philipp Lahm.
Götze then tried his own luck only to see his excellent shot denied just by the bar but the youngster was to get a deserved goal in time added on.