Fri, Mar 30, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Clinical Bayern take huge step toward semi-finals

Reuters, MARSEILLE, FRANCE

Bayern Munich took a huge step toward the UEFA Champions League semi-finals when goals by Mario Gomez and Arjen Robben gave them a clinical 2-0 win at Olympique de Marseille on Wednesday in the first leg of their quarter-final tie.

Gomez gave Bayern the lead just before halftime, when Robben’s defense-splitting pass sent him clear and his shot beat Elinton Andrade.

The Bundesliga side, who are desperate to reach the final that will be staged in their own stadium, dominated the second half and the outstanding Robben doubled their lead after 69 minutes to put them firmly in the driving seat for next Tuesday’s second leg.

Marseille had a few early chances, notably when Rod Fanni’s header was parried by Manuel Neuer into the path of Loic Remy, only for the France international striker to lash his close-range shot wide.

The French club’s task will be even harder in the second leg as holding midfielder Alou Diarra picked up a yellow card and will be suspended.

Without centerback Souleymane Diawara and goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, both of whom were suspended, Marseille were never sharp enough to pose much of a threat to a Bayern side who had scored 22 goals in their previous five matches.

Bayern’s coach Jupp Heynckes had said on the eve of the game that Marseille’s main strength was their passion and the Stade Velodrome atmosphere, but the disenchanted home fans were silent throughout, apart from when they were booing former winger Franck Ribery on his first return to his old club.

All the noise came from Bayern’s fans, who had plenty to cheer about after a slightly nervy start.

Marseille did start brightly, with Remy giving the visitors a let-off with his wayward finishing.

Bayern began to take control as the first half went on without carving out too many chances and they took the lead in controversial fashion after 44 minutes.

There was nothing wrong with Gomez’s finish, but the Bayern counterattack began when Philipp Lahm handled the ball as he claimed it from Mathieu Valbuena.

Marseille, the 1993 champions, had a chance to level early in the second half when Remy took advantage of some sloppy defending to flick the ball past Jerome Boateng, but his poked shot was then blocked by Neuer.

Robben produced a moment of real class to double the lead, playing a neat one-two with Thomas Mueller, before sliding a shot beyond Marseille’s third-choice goalkeeper Andrade.

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