Soccer-Bayern shrug off rare defeat and celebrate first place


Dec 11 (Reuters) - Bayern Munich have shrugged off their shock 3-2 home defeat by Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday, saying it was nothing more than a minor hiccup.

The titleholders said they had still accomplished their mission of finishing top of their group and avoiding the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Paris St Germain in the round of 16.

"Overall, I think this defeat could make us stronger," said coach Pep Guardiola, who suffered only his second defeat in 25 games since taking over from Jupp Heynckes. "The important thing is that emerged as winners of the group."

Guardiola even suggested the defeat could strengthen his team by giving them a warning after a run of 11 successive wins in all competitions.

"Perhaps this defeat will do us good, as it shows that the Champions League is difficult and the Bundesliga is also difficult."

With last season's treble winners again top of the Bundesliga, into the Cup quarter-finals and the Champions League last 16, chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was equally unflappable.

"We have reacted to each victory calmly and with dignity," he said. "Now we have to deal confidently with this defeat, especially because it is a defeat that does not hurt. It has no effect on the situation in the standings.

"It would have left a sour taste if we had conceded a fourth goal and finished second. That would have been really bad for us."

Bayern's players were more worried about not conceding a fourth goal, which would have left City top with a better goal difference in the head-to-head record, than getting a draw.

"That's why I deliberately took the ball towards the corner flag in the 87th minute," said forward Thomas Mueller. "I'm not sure if everyone was aware what that was all about." (Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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