This had been a game billed as the clash between Group D’s heavyweights, but on the evidence of this performance, Bayern clearly remain the team to beat after a highly impressive display at the Etihad Stadium. After Franck Ribery’s early strike put the Reds in front, they never looked like relinquishing control, with further goals from Thomas Müller and Arjen Robben coming after the break. A late strike from City’s Alvaro Negredo and a straight red card to Jerome Boateng took the shine off the result somewhat, but this was a dominant Bayern display that reaffirms their place as one of the favourites to go all the way.
Ribery strikes early
Bayern had been on the end of a 2-0 defeat the last time they had taken the field at the Etihad Stadium in the 2011/12 group stages, but on that occasion they had fielded a much-changed team after having already qualified for the knockout stages. This time they were at full strength against Manchester City and from the very first whistle, the Bavarians looked superior.
After Robben had flashed a header wide early on, Ribery needed just six minutes to collect Rafinha’s cross-field pass and rifle a powerful drive through the grasp of Joe Hart. The goal was the perfect cushion for Pep Guardiola’s men to embark on their possession football, and while the home support had been raucous at the kick-off, their cheers turned to groans each time a Man City player played a loose ball in the face of intense Bayern pressing.
By contrast it was the travelling Bayern fans making all the noise as the opening half wore on. They were a whisker away from celebrating a second goal when Robben’s driven cross eluded Müller’s outstretched leg, before David Alaba’s cross bounced fortuitously into Hart’s arms after ricocheting off Vincent Kompany.
The home side hadn’t fashioned a single shot on Manuel Neuer’s goal in the entire first half, and that continued after the restart. The Citizens competed better and forced three early corners, but still couldn’t turn that pressure into anything meaningful. Instead it was Bayern that were creating chances almost at will, and after Robben curled wide, Müller sprung the offside trap to round Hart and double the Reds’ advantage.
Clean sheet gone
Barely three minutes later, the lead grew bigger as Robben powered into the box to fire a right-foot shot inside Hart’s near post, and with that goal, the home side’s challenge seemed to grind to a halt. Robben, Kroos and Alaba missed further chances to extend the lead as Bayern continued to dominate with some mesmeric retention of possession.
The introduction of Negredo and James Milner added fresh impetus to the home side’s play and after the Spaniard’s stylish curler pulled one back for Manuel Pellegrini’s men, they briefly threatened a comeback. Boateng was dismissed after hauling down Yaya Toure, with David Silva's ensuing free-kick striking the crossbar and Negredo nodding wide moments later. It was, however, far too little too late, as Bayern comfortably held on to seize the initiative in Group D.
Manchester City FC: Hart - Richards, Kompany, Nastasic, Clichy - Toure, Fernandinho - Navas, Nasri (Milner, 70') - Aguero (Silva, 70'), Dzeko (Negredo, 57')
FC Bayern München: Neuer - Rafinha, Dante, Boateng, Alaba - Lahm -Ribery (Götze, 85'), Robben (Shaqiri, 78'), Schweinsteiger (Kirchhoff, 76'), Kroos - Müller
Goals: 0-1 Ribery (7'), 0-2 Müller (56'), 0-3 Robben (59'), 1-3 Negredo (80')
Sent off: Boateng (86')