A late goal by defender Daniel van Buten handed a 2-1 victory to Bayern Munich against Eintracht Frankfurt at the Allianz arena on yesterday. Bayern were unconvincing throughout, going behind and squandering a host of chances before second half goals from Arjen Robben and van Buyten saved coach Van Gaal's blushes.
The home team could only generate sporadic spells of pressure in a patchy first half, notable for a stolid defensive performance by Frankfurt. The few chances created all fell to Luca Toni, who was playing his first game at the Allianz Arena this season after a return from injury. The first came on twenty two minutes, Miroslav Klose slotting Toni through, but the Italian's attempt to slide the ball under Oka Nikolov was foiled by the keeper's legs. Little else of note occurred in a drab half until just before the break. A cross from the left saw Bayern midfielder Thomas Muller make contact with his head but only send the ball straight up in the air. It fell to Toni on the edge of the area, who was unlucky to see his volley beat the keeper but spring back off the upright.
For all Bayern's dominance of possession and territory, the game only fired into life with the introduction on the hour of Arjen Robben, although not in the way intended by Van Gaal. Frankfurt capitalised on the disruption caused by the change to play in striker Alexander Meier. The striker's quick, low shot across goal beat the keeper and gave Frankfurt the lead, completely against the run of play. The goal served to underline Bayern's lack of invincibility at home this season.
Yet the game shifted again with Bayern's equaliser. A cross from deep in the seventieth minute found Mario Gomez, brought on shortly after Bayern went behind. Gomez challenged the goalkeeper for the ball in the air, which then broke loose, allowing Arjen Robben to steel in and slot it into the empty net. It was the Dutchman's first appearance for Bayern after a month-long injury layoff and his goal underlined how success for Bayern this season rests heavily on keeping him fit.
Yet for all their pressure, Bayern could not make their dominance count until the dying minutes. With five minutes to go, Van Gaal took off Luca Toni, for defender Martin Demichelis and pushed existing centre back Daniel van Buyten up front. The move seemed an indictment of the failure of Bayern's regular forwards to get on the scoresheet. It also worked a charm. In the eighty-eighth minute, a Phillipp Lahm cross from the right was flicked on at the near post, and Van Buyton, storming in at the back, angled a header across goal and beyond the stretch of the Frankfurt keeper.
Bayern move up to fifth as a result of the win, only four points off leaders Leverkusen, although with a number of front-runners still to play on Sunday. Van Gaal will be relieved to get back to winning ways after a 2-1 defeat away to Bordeaux in the Champions League, and with key fixtures coming up over the next few weeks. Before that, Bayern and Eintracht renew acquaintances in just four days when the sides meet in the DFB Cup in Frankfurt. Based on the struggle today, Frankfurt will have little to fear.
John McManus is the winner of our bwin blogger competition and will be writing for The Independent from a number of events across Europe over the coming weeks.Reuse content