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Soccer-Bayern put lethargy talk to bed with Moscow mauling

Reuters

MUNICH, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Bayern Munich's opening Champions League match was always going to be a big occasion but the title holders brushed off internal accusations of complacency with a resounding 3-0 home win over CSKA Moscow on Tuesday.

Bayern sports director Matthias Sammer had criticised the team's performance against Hanover 96 on Saturday, claiming the side were "lethargic" and failed to show sufficient passion in the 2-0 win, their fourth in five league games this season.

Given the team's solid run so far, Sammer's scathing words annoyed club president Uli Hoeness, also renowned for using the media to motivate players, and CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

"I am not a friend of public criticism. It is good for the media because they can scoop out the honey from something like this," Rummenigge told reporters before the game.

"But I do not think the team liked it and I cannot imagine that the coach liked it either. We did not like it either."

Whatever the mood in the changing room, last season's treble winners appeared to heed Sammer's warning by playing their best game of the campaign to overpower the hapless Russian champions and reinforce their status as tournament favourites.

"We showed what we can do today and that should also put an end to the ongoing discussion," winger Arjen Robben, who scored the third goal, said.

"It is important to find our rhythm after being away for 10 days with the national teams. Now we can put in a good run of games and improve, get points and win games."

SHARP IMPROVEMENT

Captain and right back Philipp Lahm, outstanding as a holding midfielder in the absence of injured Javi Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger, was also keen to highlight the team's sharp improvement from Saturday's routine league win.

As well as Martinez, Bayern are still missing injured midfielders Mario Goetze and Thiago Alcantara, while Schweinsteiger, who came on as a substitute, remains short of match fitness following a recent ankle injury.

"It was important to start very strongly and we did that," Lahm said. "We were aggressive and were much better than on the weekend. It is not always easy after a national team break to play at 100 percent but we did it."

The Bavarians needed just three minutes to open the scoring with man-of-the-match David Alaba whipping in a superb free kick.

Croat Mario Mandzukic, who had earlier hit the post, headed in a Robben free kick four minutes from halftime and the Dutchman controlled a fine Alaba chip in the box midway through the second half to drill in their final goal.

Their dominant performance set a new club record of six straight Champions League game victories with the Bavarians top in Group D along with Manchester City, winners 3-0 at Viktoria Plzen, on three points.

"This had nothing to do with Sammer," Rummenigge said after their victory.

"The team has huge quality, the team enjoys our full trust. At the end of the day, we know they can deliver such games. The team picked up where it had left off in London (Champions League final in May). Namely, with a superb game." (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by John O'Brien)

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