Sun, Feb 03, 2008 - Page 22 News List

Bayern survive Hansa fightback

TIGHT AT THE TOP Bayern Munich struggled in the run-up to the winter break and had seen their six-point lead at the top in October evaporate by the end of last month


Hansa Rostock's Enrico Kern, front, and Bayern Munich's Ze Roberto challenge for the ball during their German Bundesliga first division match in Rostock, Germany, on Friday.


Bayern Munich captain Oliver Kahn admitted he was relieved at surviving a Hansa Rostock fightback as the German giants came away with a 2-1 win on Friday to open a three-point gap at the top of the Bundesliga.

This was the first German league game of the year after the six-week winter break and Bayern looked to be cruising having built a 2-0 halftime lead courtesy of goals from Franck Ribery and Luca Toni.

But Kahn's side made a nervous start to the second half as their defense leaked an early goal.

"It was clear to us that it would become a combative game, as it proved early in the second half," Kahn said. "But we successfully shut them out and expectations on us are as high as always. In the first half, we showed we can deal with the pressure. It's always important to win your first game back after the winter break."

Having beaten Hansa 3-0 on the opening weekend of the season last August, Bayern struggled in the run-up to the winter break with two lifeless 0-0 draws against mid-table sides and had seen their six-point lead in October evaporate by last month.

But Bayern had their French midfield star Ribery to thank when he put them ahead by converting Ze Roberto's cross to beat Hansa goalkeeper Stefan Waechter on ten minutes.

Toni and Miroslav Klose then both narrowly missed the target.

Italian World Cup winner Toni bagged his tenth league goal of the season -- and his 19th in all competitions for Bayern this season -- when he latched onto defender Willy Sagnol's pass and made it 2-0 on 42 minutes.

But Hansa pulled one back after the break when striker Enrico Kern broke down the right flank.

His shot beat Kahn, but not the post.

Christian Rahn then smashed the rebound onto the crossbar before Kern made no mistake with his second attempt on 52 minutes.

Hansa had the chance to draw level moments later when only a superb tackle from Ze Roberto denied midfielder Fin Bartels a clear shot on goal.

Toni then squandered a chance to put the game beyond doubt 10 minutes from time when he powered his way through the defense, but smashed his shot over the bar.

Bayern's win now puts pressure on their main title rivals, Werder Bremen, to pick up a win at home to strugglers VfL Bochum.

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