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Bayern ease through to Champions League knockout phase

Germany international Mario Gomez was given a rare start as Bayern Munich outplayed Romanian side CFR Cluj 4-0 on Wednesday. Gomez contributed with a hat trick, helping his team to the Champions League knockout stages.

Gomez scores one of his three goals

Gomez wasted no time in making his mark on the game

Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez scored a hat trick in his club's Champions League group stage win over Romanian team CFR Cluj on Wednesday night, earning Bayern a place in the knockout stages with two games to spare.

Gomez had a rare place in the starting 11 and was quick to make the most of it. A shot from Andreas Ottl after 12 minutes was parried by Cluj goalkeeper Eduard Stancoiu into the path of Gomez, who tapped the ball home.

Bayern coach Louis van Gaal

Injuries meant Van Gaal had no choice but to play Gomez

His second came after 24 minutes, when he nudged the ball into the net after receiving a nodded pass from inside the box by Germany international Bastian Schweinsteiger.

The Romanian side showed some signs of a fight back, and were dominant in the first part of the second half - but to no avail.

Bayern's third came after 71 minutes after a through-ball from Schweinsteiger pierced the defense to give Gomez a clear shot on goal - which he duly converted.

Mueller puts icing on cake

Thomas Mueller topped off the Germans’ victory, pouncing on a blunder in the Cluj defense to score a tap-in in the final minute.

With Bayern forwards Ivica Olic and Miroslav Klose injured, coach Louis van Gaal, had no choice but to start Gomez.

Gomez celebrates

Gomez, right, and Bayern can celebrate their best start to a Champions League campaign

"I am happy to have played tonight and played from the start," said Gomez. "It feels good."

The result means that Bayern have 12 points - six more than closest Group E rivals Roma, with Cluj and Basel on three points each.

The win gives Bayern its best-ever start to the competition, despite the poorest beginning to a Bundesliga season in living memory.

In Tuesday's Champions League soccer, Schalke gained only a point with a draw against Hapoel Tel Aviv, while Werder Bremen were all but eliminated from the next stage with a 2-0 defeat to Dutch football champions FC Twente.

Author: Richard Connor (AFP, AP, Reuters)
Editor: Darren Mara

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