Sun, Aug 24, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Bayern start title defense with victory over ‘Wolfe’

AFP, BERLIN

Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, center, jumps over VfL Wolfsburg goalkeeper Max Grun in their Bundesliga match in Munich, Germany, on Friday.

Photo: Reuters

Reigning German champions Bayern Munich got the new Bundesliga season off to a perfect start with a dramatic 2-1 win over VfL Wolfsburg on Friday.

Pep Guardiola’s side looked sluggish early on at the Allianz Arena in Munich, but took the lead after 37 minutes when Thomas Mueller poked home from Arjen Robben’s cross.

The home side seemed in control when Robben scored just 67 seconds into the second half before a superb strike from Ivica Olic gave the visitors hope.

Wolfsburg, who finished fifth last season, then missed a glorious chance to steal a point when substitute Junior Malanda somehow missed from point-blank range with 11 minutes remaining.

“We didn’t have the ideal preparation,” Robben said. “We had a lot of players at the [FIFA] World Cup until the end who haven’t trained much and a lot of injuries, but that can’t be used as an excuse. We have a super squad — the three points were the most important thing today.”

The visitors, who were fifth last season, left with many regrets.

“To concede the second goal right at the start of the second half was tough, but then we scored and after that I thought we played well. Kevin [De Bruyne] and Junior [Malanda] had really good chances and when you don’t take your chances here, you won’t get any points,” Olic said.

Guardiola went into the game missing injured midfielders Franck Ribery, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thiago and Javi Martinez, as well as suspended defender Jerome Boateng.

The Spanish coach responded by handing 17-year-old Gianluca Gaudino his first Bundesliga start. Gaudino lined up in central midfield alongside David Alaba, one of only three players who made their league debut for Bayern.

Former Bayern midfielder Luiz Gustavo started in midfield for the visitors, who handed Bundesliga debuts to new signings Sebastian Jung, Joshua Guilavogui and Aaron Hunt.

After a slow start, Mueller and Robben shot straight at visiting goalkeeper Max Grun, who was standing in for Wolfsburg captain Diego Benaglio.

Bayern thought they had made the breakthrough 28 minutes in when Robert Lewandowski tapped in from Robben’s pass across goal, but the Netherlands winger was rightly flagged offside.

The home side were beginning to get on top and Lewandowski was denied again when Grun recovered well after fumbling Mueller’s close-range effort.

The visiting ’keeper made an even better save moments later, when Gaudino’s clipped ball into the box was acrobatically steered toward the goal by Lewandowksi, but Grun clawed it away.

Wolfsburg were camped in their own half and an inevitable Bayern goal arrived after 37 minutes. Robben turned Gustavo inside out down the right and his low ball was prodded home by Mueller.

The title-holders then made a blistering start to the second half when Robben dispossessed Guilavogui. Bayern broke at pace, with Mueller and a deft touch from Lewandowski setting Robben free to tuck home.

After 52 minutes, die Wolfe pulled a goal back out of the blue. Olic got away from Holger Badstuber on the edge of the box before curling a first-time effort in off the underside of the bar.

Substitute Maximilian Arnold delivered a perfect cross to Malanda, whose effort was deflected on to the bar by Manuel Neuer. The rebound fell to Malanda practically on the goal line, but the Belgium midfielder was taken by surprise and shinned the ball wide.

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