Bayern stay top after routine win at Köln

Cologne – FC Bayern München maintained their lead at the top of the Bundesliga table with a 2-0 victory at 1. FC Köln.

One-way traffic

Mario Götze gave the record titleholders the lead inside 20 minutes at the RheinEnergieStadion, before a Daniel Halfar own goal halfway through the second period put the seal on a comfortable victory for the Bavarians.

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola made two changes from the side that beat SC Paderborn 07 so convincingly in midweek, bringing in Juan Bernat and Rafinha in place of Dante and Sebastian Rode. The majority of the early action was at the other end of the pitch, however, with Thomas Müller twice going close inside the first ten minutes.

The 25-year-old was also involved in the opening goal, sending over a low cross which was missed by Robert Lewandowski, but tapped home at the far post by Götze for his third league goal of the campaign. Müller could have doubled the champions’ lead midway through the first half, but Timo Horn produced a superb point-blank save to keep the score at 1-0.

Unbeatable Neuer

Manuel Neuer then had to be at his best to preserve the visitors’ lead, first saving from Adam Matuyschuk, before deflecting Anthony Ujah’s follow-up effort out for a corner, which came to nothing. The visitors continued to dominate, though, with Arjen Robben and Götze both thwarted by the impressive Horn before the interval.

The pattern continued after the break as Müller once again went close from the edge of the penalty area, before Robben’s low cross was turned away yards from his own goalline by Dominic Maroh, who did well to dispossess Lewandowski deep inside the box moments later.

Game, set and match

It seemed only a matter of time before Guardiola’s charges increased their lead, and they did so after 66 minutes. Robben threaded an eye-of-the-needle pass through to Götze, whose cross was turned into his own net by Halfar under pressure by David Alaba. The midfielder tried to make amends soon after with a speculative effort which failed to trouble Neuer in the Bayern goal.

Apart from another long-range effort by Daniel Olkowski, Köln never really threatened to mount an unlikely comeback and could even have fallen further behind when Bernat blazed a shot high over the bar following a goal-mouth scramble. The win extends Bayern’s lead at the top of the league to two points after Bayer 04 Leverkusen failed to beat SC Freiburg on Saturday afternoon.

Line-ups and statistics

Matthew Howarth