Bayern banish final demons with Valencia win

Reuters , Wednesday 19 Sep 2012

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Bayern Munich cast aside the bitter memories of their Champions League final defeat in May to begin the new campaign with a 2-1 Group F victory over Valencia on Wednesday.

Schweinsteiger, whose spot-kick miss in the final shootout on home turf allowed Chelsea to score and be crowned European champions, fired Bayern into the lead with a deflected shot in the 38th minute, much to the delight of the 68,000 sold-out crowd in Munich.

Midfielder Toni Kroos added a second when he scored with a 20-metre drive in the 76th minute.

Defensive-minded Valencia, in their first encounter with Bayern since losing to the Germans in the 2001 Champions League final, cut the deficit with a header from Nelson Valdez in stoppage time.

Bayern should then have made it 3-1 but substitute Mario Mandzukic saw his penalty saved by keeper Diego Alves after Adil Rami was sent off.

Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes sprang a surprise with his starting lineup, leaving top scorer Mandzukic on the bench and bringing in the experienced Claudio Pizarro. He also gave 40-million euro-signing Javi Martinez his first competitive start.

The hosts enjoyed the majority of possession but were made to work hard as cautious Valencia defended deeply.

Kroos tried his luck from 20 metres with a powerful drive but Alves was well-placed to save.

Bayern, who are top in the Bundesliga, kept at it and Schweinsteiger broke the deadlock after a well-timed pass by Arjen Robben.

Valencia, with only one win in four league games in Spain so far, posed no real threat, waiting for a chance to break and mainly relying on Algerian Sofiane Feghouli's speed for any offensive spark.

Kroos forced another good Alves save with a 20-metre missile on the hour before finally beating the Brazilian after he was left unmarked outside the box.

Valencia were given a ray of hope when substitute Valdez was caught a sleepy Bayern defence napping and the former Bundesliga player headed past Manuel Neuer.


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