Gelsenkirchen: Bayern Munich`s perfect start to the Bundesliga season continued with a comfortable 2-0 win over Schalke at the Veltins Arena on Saturday.
Despite a lot of back-and-forth action in the first half, neither side were able to break the deadlock as both defences held firm. However, that all changed after the break as a stirring three-minute salvo from Bayern saw them storm into a two-goal lead.
Thomas Muller set up the opener for Toni Kroos in the 55th minute after a beautiful combination, before getting on the score sheet himself moments later thanks to a clever run from the flanks.
There was nothing left for Schalke after that, as Bayern killed off the game by slowing down the tempo to claim their fourth win out of four in the new campaign, and climb back to the top of the league.
Muller replaced Franck Ribery in the visitors’ XI after the former was ruled out of contention with a thigh injury, while Mario Mandzukic stepped in for Claudio Pizarro up front.
Huub Stevens made only one change from the side that defeated Olympiakos 3-1 midweek, with Julian Draxler starting in place of Tranquillo Barnetta out wide.
Despite a raucous home crowd, it was the visitors who started the stronger, with Kroos coming close to turning home a flick by Bastian Schweinsteiger from a good position.
Mandzukic missed an even better chance in the 25th minute, heading over from point-blank range after Arjen Robben’s cross had picked him out at the far post with plenty to aim at.
Schalke were spirited, if not entirely dangerous, in their performance, although Klass-Jan Huntelaar attempted to drag his side forward, racing free down the left before blasting into the side netting.
However, the home side began to see more goalmouth action as the first half wore to a close. First, Julian Draxler completely miscued an unmarked header from a gilt-edged position, before Jefferson Farfan forced Manuel Neuer to save at full stretch with a stinging blast from inside the area.
The second half began with Bayern back in the ascendancy. Muller blew a glorious opportunity in the 54th minute when he headed wide from inside the six-yard area, but the German international would make amends just over 60 seconds later by sparking a brilliant blitz to turn the match on its head.
The 23-year-old first drew the attention of two defenders before slipping in Kroos with a clever disguised ball, from which the midfielder slotted comfortably home.
Just moments later, it was Muller’s turn to shine, as he nutmegged Christian Fuchs on the right, before cutting in and sidefooting beyond the body of Lars Unnerstall.
Schalke were stunned, and rushed to get forward to reverse their fortunes. Bayern nearly scored again however, when Robben attempted to lob Unnerstall from a one-on-one, but the keeper was alert enough to thwart the Dutch winger at the last and the visitors were ultimately forced to settle for a two-goal margin of victory.
It is not pleasant at all that I had to approach the court but there was no option left for me. I am glad that I have been proved right and it has lifted my morale ahead for the Asian Games.
Manoj Kumar, Indian boxer