Bayern Munich have handed Borussia Mönchengladbach a 3-1 defeat to open the Bundesliga campaign. Gladbach put up a good fight, but the Bavarians picked up right where they left off last season, as winners.
There was plenty of hype surrounding the season opener at a sold out Allianz Arena in Munich on Friday. The match was preceded by a ceremony marking the start of the Bundesliga campaign, with every team represented.
New Bayern Coach Pep Guardiola didn't make any major surprises in his starting lineup, and Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Mandzukic and Toni Kroos all made the cut. It was Gladbach who experimented, playing new-signing Max Kruse alone up front, supported by Juan Arango, Raffael and Patrick Herrmann.
In the 12th minute, Franck Ribery helped put the hosts on the board. His wonderful ball from the left wing flew over the Gladbach defense and fell to Arjen Robben, who stuck out a foot and chipped his shot over goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Four minutes later Robben sent a free kick into the box. Ter Stegen was there to stop Ribery's shot, but Mandzukic got on the end of the rebound to make it 2-0. Two unfortunate plays from the Gladbach keeper and good Bayern finishing meant that less than a quarter of the way into the match, the hosts were comfortably ahead.
As the half wore on, Gladbach settled into the match and even created some opportunities of their own. A close-range effort from Max Kruse drew an excellent save from Manuel Neuer on the half hour mark. Eleven minutes later, Gladbach were the lucky ones. Dante stuck a leg out to clear a low cross from Juan Arango, but the Brazilian defender could only misdirect the ball past Neuer and into the net.
It was Gladbach who applied the pressure to start the second half, with Kruse the first to get a dangerous shot on target. Down by just one goal and fighting hard, it looked like the visitors might pull one back. Then the unlucky happened.
In the 68th minute, defender Alvaro Dominguez was judged to have handled the ball in the box. Thomas Müller took the spot kick, and ter Stegen did wonderfully to save the effort. The ball immediately fell to Robben, who knocked it off Dominguez's arm and again Bayern were awarded a penalty. This time it was David Alaba who took the kick, and he didn't miss.
Comfortably ahead, Bayern were on a relative cruise control for the remainder of the match, and it ended 3-1. It was a slightly unfair result for Gladbach, who were ranked outsiders against the talented Bavarians.
"At the beginning we made too many mistakes that they punished us for," ter Stegen told broadcaster Sky after the match, adding that despite the result: "You can take a lot of positive things from this."
The Bundesliga resumes again on Saturday, when Bayern's title challengers Borussia Dortmund get their league campaign under way with a visit to Augsburg.