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Bayern Munich 4-1 BATE Borisov: Brilliant Bavarians batter Belarusians to seal top spot

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Bayern Munich 4-1 BATE Borisov: Brilliant Bavarians batter Belarusians to seal top spot
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Bayern Munich 4-1 BATE Borisov: Brilliant Bavarians batter Belarusians to seal top spot

Bayern Munich sealed a first-place finish in Group F with a 4-1 victory over BATE Borisov at the Allianz-Arena on Wednesday.

Goals from Mario Gomez, Thomas Muller, and Xherdan Shaqiri gave the Bavarians revenge for their defeat in Belarus in October, despite Jerome Boateng seeing red just five minutes into the second half.

Bayern began the game in complete control and could have been ahead before its opponent had even had a kick on two minutes, but Bastian Schweinsteiger scuffed his shot from the edge of box safely into the hands of Andrey Gorbunov in the BATE goal.

The visitors defended deep and pressed whenever Die Roten approached the final third, looking to catch the Germans on the counter or from a set piece. That’s not to say their approach could be described as anti-football, Viktor Goncharenko’s side moved the ball extremely well and always looked to play short.

Indeed, they might well have taken an early lead when their first real pattern of passing ended with Artyom Kontsevoi striking across goal from 20 yards, but his shot lacked sufficient power to truly trouble Manuel Neur.

Having already secured qualification and aware that a win of any kind would see them top Group F, the hosts perhaps looked a little too relaxed in the opening twenty minutes, but took the lead when Shaqiri shifted up a gear. The Switzerland international was fortunate to evade Denis Polyakov’s challenge on the left, but did superbly to pick out Gomez for a tap-in after having made it to the byline.

Toni Kroos sparkled only intermittently but almost doubled the Bavarians’ five minutes before the break, turning to strike a fierce shot from the edge of the box that was well stopped by Andrey Gorbunov.

BATE, too, played largely in second gear, with its route to the Europa League already sealed, and the game looked little like picking up until five minutes into the second half when Jerome Boateng was shown a straight red card for needless two-footed tackle on Rodionov.

But just as it looked like the visitors were going to show more ambition and really take the game to the ten men, a deep free kick was flicked on by Bastian Schweinsteiger for Muller to cushion his volley past Gorbunov from a few yards; fortunately for Bayern, the referee’s assistant failed to spot that the Germany international was half a yard offside.

Shaqiri made it three shortly after the hour mark, heading home from six yards after a fine cross from Gomez on the left. Polyakov’s miserable night was complete with twenty minutes remaining when he was dismissed following a second booking for simulation following a ludicrous attempt to win a penalty for his side; his first booking for a foul on Shaqiri as the little winger wriggled towards goal after half an hour was probably Polyakov’s only positive contribution all evening.

David Alaba rounded off the scoring with his first ever Champions League goal, controlling well before coolly volleying fellow substitute Franck Ribery’s corner past Gorbunov from 18 yards.

Egor Filippenko then tucked his neat finish inside Neur’s post from the edge of the box with two minutes remaining, but it was nothing more than a consolation.

The victory ensured Bayern ended the group stage on a high with its 16th victory in its last 17 home Champions League ties.

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