Plzen - FC Bayern München clinched their place in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages after a hard-fought 1-0 win over FC Viktoria Plzen in the Czech Republic.

Mario Mandzukic grabbed the only goal of the game - six minutes after coming on as a substitute - as Pep Guardiola’s side equalled FC Barcelona’s record of nine straight victories in Europe’s premier club competition.

Early opportunities

Bayern cruised to a comprehensive 5-0 win over the Czech champions in Munich a fortnight ago and threatened a similar scoreline this time around as they lay siege to the Plzen goal. David Alaba went close to opening the scoring after ten minutes with a curling free-kick from the edge of the area, but Plzen keeper Matus Kozacik did well to smother the Austrian’s shot.

Alaba again tested Kozacik moments later, before Bastian Schweinsteiger was denied by the woodwork with 15 minutes on the clock. Mario Götze, who looked a constant threat down the right-hand side, then found Alaba with a pin-point cross on the half-hour mark, but the left-back was again thwarted by the Slovakian keeper.

Plzen stand firm

Plzen had failed to muster a single shot on goal at the Allianz Arena on Matchday 4, but almost took a shock lead when Pavel Horvarth crossed for Daniel Kolar, the attacking midfielder’s header drifting just over the crossbar. The hosts were doing a good job of frustrating Pep Guardiola’s charges, who were struggling to create clear-cut openings following Schweinsteiger’s early opportunity.

The visitors almost opened the scoring four minutes into the second half, however. Thomas Müller’s through ball found Philipp Lahm only for the captain’s effort to be hacked off the line by Marian Cisovski. Kozacik then did well to deny Franck Ribery as Bayern pushed forward in search of that elusive opener.

Mario strikes again

The reigning European champions finally made the breakthrough 20 minutes into the second half though. Lahm’s precise cross found Mario Mandzukic at the far post and the Croatian made no mistake with a header that flew back across goal and into the far corner. The Bavarians’ top scorer could have doubled his tally for the evening ten minutes later, yet had to settle for his header nestling in the side-netting.

Götze perhaps should have put the result beyond all doubt in the closing stages after rounding Kozacik, but the 21-year-old delayed his shot, allowing the Plzen stopper to recover and block, before Mandzukic fired the rebound over the crossbar. It was a far from convincing performance, but ultimately the Croat’s goal was enough to send Bayern through to the last sixteen with two Group D matches to spare.


FC Viktoria Plzen: Kozacik - Rajtoral, Cisovsky, Prochazka, Hubnik (Reznik 71') - Horava, Horvath - Petrzela, Kolar, Duris (Duris 83') - Tecl (Bakos 87')

FC Bayern München: Neuer - Rafinha, van Buyten, Contento, Alaba - Schweinsteiger (Javi Martinez 59'), Lahm - Götze (Weiser 87'), Kroos, Ribery - Müller (Mandzukic 59')

Goals: 0-1 Mandzukic (65')

Matthew Howarth

Watch the highlights from Bayern's record-equalling match against 1899 Hoffenheim, courtesy of the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: