In the opening leg of their UEFA Champions League draw, Bayern Munich scored a dramatic win over Inter Milan at the San Siro Wednesday evening. In the 90th minute, Mario Gomez knocked in a rebound from short distance following an Arjen Robben shot that was deflected by Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar for the game’s only goal, giving Bayern Munich a 1-0 victory headed into the second leg of their series at the Allianz Arena on March 15.
Gomez’ goal was his 27th in his last 23 matches in all competitions. As common as it is for him to score, it is equally rare that Bayern Munich get a win on Italian soil. Wednesday’s victory was only Bayern’s 5th win out of 16 matches played in Italy. But Gomez, who had a quiet game up to the climactic moment, showed his goal-scoring penchant was still intact as he pounced on the loose ball and deflated Inter’s hopes of going to Munich level with the Bavarians.
The entertaining game featured hard nosed and alert defending from both sides. Both defenses were able to close down passing lanes while putting pressure on the ball. Last year’s Champion League finalists stood toe to toe other throughout the match but limited their jabs to opportune moments. Each defense was outstanding, although Inter had difficulty containing the dangerous Arjen Robben while Samuel Eto’o proved to be the most effective Inter attacker.
Despite Inter Milan showed difficulty roping Arjen Robben in, they were able to bottleneck most Bayern attacking threats and congest the middle effectively while blocking shots and intercepting many passes. Bayern Munich’s defense responsded with one of their better performances of the season, with young goalkeeper Thomas Kraft showing that Coach van Gaal’s faith in him was justified. Van Gaal made the controversial decision to name the 22 year-old his number one goalkeeper at the end of winter break, but Kraft’s athleticism and instinct were crucial in keeping Inter Milan off the scoreboard.
The match started off with a rather deliberate pace, typical of a match of this magnitude. Bayern’s Luis Gustavo got things going at the 20th minute with a long-range shot that skipped on the turf just outside Inter’s goalpost. Two minutes later, Esteban Cambiasso had an opportunity to put Inter in the lead following some good work by Eto’o but was unable to get past Kraft. Franck Ribery hit Inter’s crossbar minutes later, and Bayern Munich showed slightly better in the 1st half despite a late flurry of attacking by Inter.
Eight minutes after intermission, Robben hit the Inter goalpost with a shot. But Bayern Munich’s inability to get the ball to Gomez successfully, along with Kraft’s goalkeeping, made the game appear that it would end a scoreless draw as the second half neared completion. But Robben was able to work his magic, knocking a hard shot to Julio Cesar’s left that the Brazilian couldn’t quite handle cleanly, and Gomez’ poaching ability gave Bayern Munich the huge win.
Both van Gaal and his Inter counterpart, Leonardo, both only made one substitution during the match, both for injury. Breno came in for Bayern Munich in the 38th minute for Danijel Pranjic, while Andrea Ranocchia suffered a knock and was replaced by Houssine Kharja in the 73rd. Die Bayern held 54% of possession while managing 18 shots to 13 for Inter. Corner kicks were virtually even, with Inter holding an 8-7 edge.
Bayern Munich were looking for revenge after losing to Inter Milan in last year’s final. Today they got a taste, and hopefully for Bayern Munich fans, revenge will again be served at the Allianz Arena on March 15.
Mario Gomez photo from Bayern Munich website.
Inter Lineup: Cesar, Ranocchia, Lucio, Chivu, Maicon, Motta, Cambiasso, Zanetti, Eto’o, Sneijder, Stankovic Subs Used: Kharj 73′ (for Ranocchia)
Bayern Lineup: Kraft, Badstuber, Pranjic, Tymoschuk, Lahm, Schweinsteiger, Gustavo, Ribery, Robben, Gomez, Muller Subs Used: Breno 38′ (for Pranjic)