Bastian Schweinsteiger (4th r.) put Bayern ahead with a thumping header in the third minute at home to the Billy Goats
Bastian Schweinsteiger (4th r.) put Bayern ahead with a thumping header in the third minute at home to the Billy Goats

Bayern ease past Köln to cap anniversary celebrations

Munich - FC Bayern München celebrated the 115th anniversary of the club’s founding with a comfortable 4-1 home victory over 1. FC Köln in the Matchday 23 opener on Friday evening.

Quick out of the blocks

Bastian Schweinsteiger set them on their way with an early header, with Franck Ribery adding a second shortly afterwards. Although Anthony Ujah surprisingly pulled one back just before the break, second half goals from Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski put the match beyond the visitors’ reach.

With chants of “115 years FCB” ringing out from a south terrace, the match kicked off at a furious pace, with Bayern thriving on the deafening atmosphere to push forward. Their visitors were clearly unnerved, and once Ujah sliced an early attempted clearance out for a corner, Bayern never looked back.

Perhaps fittingly for such an occasion, it was homegrown talent Schweinstegier who put the Bundesliga leaders in front, rising to power home a header from Robben’s out-swinging corner from the left. Ujah offered a brief flicker of hope for the Billy Goats with a smart spin to outfox Holger Badstuber on the halfway line, but the Nigerian forward was soon outnumbered, and Ribery showed him how it was done moments later by drilling a low shot into the bottom corner after cutting in from the left.

Köln stun Bayern

A comfortable lead duly established, Bayern eased off slightly and although they continued to dominate, their grip on proceedings was not as asphyxiating as it had been early on. Ujah remained Köln’s best outlet and his movement and unpredictability kept the Bayern defence on their toes. The forward was rewarded for his endeavours shortly before the break when he headed in at the far post from Matthias Lehmann’s pinpoint cross from the right.

That goal visibly lifted the Billy Goats and they carried their momentum into the second period, playing with far greater confidence than before. Ujah went close to equalising following a swift counter-attack when he flicked Slawomir Peszko’s left-wing cross goalwards, but Manuel Neuer was down to his left to save. Robben squandered a glorious opportunity at the other end when he ran clean through on goal, but chose to square the ball instead of shooting, allowing Miso Brecko to slide in and clear.

Robben and Lewandowski on target

It mattered little in the end, however, as Robben soon made amends by heading in Ribery’s cross at the back post to restore the hosts’ two-goal cushion. Köln didn’t let their heads drop, however, and almost got a foothold in the game once more through Daniel Halfar, whose drilled shot from 15 yards was blocked by Neuer.

Any lingering hopes of a comeback were finally put to bed in the 75th minute, though, when another well-worked Bayern break, spearheaded by Ribery, ended with Lewandowski chesting the ball over the line after Robben had dinked it over Timo Horn. Köln perhaps didn’t deserve to lose by such a high margin given their bold second half display, but ultimately they had no answer to Bayern’s devastating front line.

Line-ups and statistics

Jonathan Stockitt reporting from the Allianz Arena

Take a look at FC Bayern's pre-match celebrations in honour of their 115th birthday on the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: