It had started out as a potentially tricky encounter against an unpredictable banana skin, and ended with a gentle breeze. Up against ten men following the fastest dismissal in the history of the Champions’ League, FC Bayern showed their professional poise in seeing off Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk to claim a place in the quarter-finals.
Coach Pep Guardiola made three changes to the weekend’s starting eleven, with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribéry and Robert Lewandowski coming in for Danté, Juan Bernat and the suspended Xabi Alonso. The onus was clearly on Bayern to take the game to opponents that had performed the almost perfect bus-parking exercise in the first leg three weeks earlier in Lviv, and Guardiola’s lineup showed plenty of attacking intent with a potent 4-1-4-1 – which effectively morphed into a 4-1-5 as the game developed. Morale was further boosted by the return of skipper Philipp Lahm, who took a seat on the bench.
It took just three minutes for Bayern to get the decisive break, when Mario Götze’s run into the box was halted by Shakhtar centre-back Olexandr Kucher. Scottish Referee William Collum pointed immediately to the penalty spot, and moments later flashed the dreaded red card in the Ukrainian’s direction. The decision was in truth a little harsh, but arguably no less so than the Rot that had been shown to Medhi Benatia for a similar challenge against Manchester City in the group stage.
Thomas Müller calmly dispatched the spot-kick as ‘keeper Andriy Pyatov dived the wrong way, and Bayern were on their way. The following half an hour was in truth more than a little frustrating as Bayern passed the ball around nicely and failed to capitalise, and just short of the twenty-minute mark Arjen Robben made his way off the pitch with what looked like a slight twinge. Sebastian Rode calmly slotted in, and the dominant possession play continued. Lewandowski was picked out perfectly after twenty-four minutes but could only direct his header against the far post, and both Müller and Ribéry tested Pyatov as the Bavarians kept knocking on the door.
Theoretically at one goal down Mircea Lucescu’s side were still in the contest, but all such pretensions were ended eleven minutes before half-time with another incisive foray into the opposition box. Pyatov was up to the challenge again as he denied Lewandowski, but he could do nothing to prevent Jérôme Boateng charging in towards the loose ball and slamming it into the back of the net. At 2-0 against a team offering little or no threat, the game was effectively over as the two teams walked into the dressing room at the break.
Bayern were in no mood to sit back in the second half, and it took just four minutes for the third goal to arrive. With almost everyone getting forward for a piece of the action, a lovely interchange between David Alaba, Boateng and Ribéry down the left set up the Frenchman, who clinically drilled the ball across Pyatov and into the far corner. Two minutes later the unfortunate Lewandowski was again denied by the busy Shakhtar ‘keeper, but with the defence at complete sixes and sevens Thomas Müller calmly slotted in Die Roten’s fourth from the rebound as the Guardiola’s men threatened to run riot.
Shakhtar had offered next to nothing at the other end, but this was not all down to their lack of attacking intent and Bayern’s dominant ownership of the ball. Boateng showed the perfect combination of speed and strength to foil one attempted break by the visitors, and Holger Badstuber was also in top form as he beat the fast-running Luiz Adriano to the ball.
The chances continued to come and sub Juan Bernat almost scored with his first touch, and there was a sense of inevitability when goal number five arrived three minutes after the hour. Yet another Bayern attack had pulled the Donetsk defence apart, and Rafinha had all the time in the world as he crafted the perfect right-sided cross for the unmarked Badstuber whose firm header burned Pyatov’s fingers before hitting the back of die Maschen.
With the defenders getting on the scoresheet it was finally the turn of Lewandowski to get in on the act, and the Pole made his mark with fifteen minutes left on the clock. Collecting Bastian Schweinsteiger’s pass that sliced through the middle of the soft Shahktar defence, Lewandowski almost managed to mess things up, but maintained enough poise to drill his shot low past the ‘keeper. By this time Bayern’s stricken opponents were running on empty, and with three minutes left, Boateng’s marauding run down the right found Götze, who had plenty of time to recover from a poor first touch to calmly slot in goal number seven with the deftest of finishes.
Bayern had matched the 7-0 scoreline achieved against FC Basel at the same stage in 2012, and almost used the remaining three minutes to break the record. Pyatov however pulled off a couple of excellent saves at the death, remaining alert after the majority of his team mates had long since given up the ghost. Götze had a well-directed effort beaten away by the Shakhtar ‘keeper, and Lewandowski was denied just moments later.
In all, it had been a clinical display from the 2013 winners, who racked up sixteen shots on target to their opponents’ one. As in the first leg, Manuel Neuer wasn’t even in the game, and could very easily have taken a nap between the posts. More testing times will surely lie around the corner.
Some critics might point out that this scoreline was achieved against “only” ten men, but this would be brought into sharp perspective later in the evening when Chelsea failed to see off Paris St. Germain despite having had a similar advantage for most of the game following the dismissal of PSG’s star man Zlatan Ibrahimović. While the 2012 winners had made playing against ten men painfully difficult, Bayern had been clinically professional.
Bayern are next up against Werder Bremen at the Weserstadion as they resume their domestic campaign, and they will be missing both Robben and Ribéry, who was also subbed off with a slight knock. Neither injury appears to be serious however with both men set to return to duty after a short rest.
Man of the Match
Despite this being a strong team performance where everybody got involved, one man stands out. When called to perform his defensive duties he was right on the spot, and as the game opened up he added to the plethora of Bayern’s attacking options. With his goal in the first half and two assists, Jérôme Boateng gets the nod.
Unlike at the weekend against Hannover, there were no obvious weak links.
– Bastian Schweinsteiger was perhaps less influential than usual, but then he really didn’t have to be.
– Mario Götze once again slotted in and out of the action before scoring a nice goal late on; he continues to remain anonymous for significant spells, and once again he was guilty of overcooking things when a simple pass would have sufficed.
– Robert Lewandowski would have been thankful for his late goal after another mixed bag. While the Polish striker played a key role as part of a dominant attacking unit, on another evening he could have lifted Bayern up into double figures. In fairness he did find ‘keeper Pyatov in good form, but he should have at least hit the target with his first half header.
UEFA Champions’ League Second Round Second Leg
Allianz Arena, München 11.03.2015
FC Bayern 7:0 (2:0) Shakhtar Donetsk
Müller pen 4., 52., Boateng 34., Ribéry 49., Badstuber 63., Lewandowski 75., Götze 87. / –
FC Bayern: Neuer – Rafinha, Boateng, Badstuber (67. Danté), Alaba – Schweinsteiger (c) – Robben (19. Rode), Götze, Ribéry (59. Bernat) – Müller, Lewandowski
Shakhtar: Pyatov – Srna (c), Kucher, Rakytskiy, V. Shevchuk – Fred, Stepanenko – Douglas Costa, Taison (9. Kryvtsov), Alex Teixeira (70. Ilsinho), Luiz Adriano (78. Wellington)
Yellow Cards: Badstuber, Schweinsteiger / Douglas Costa
Red Cards: – / Kucher 3.
Originally published on the website of the Red Dragons London, the United Kingdom’s premier FC Bayern München fan club
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