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Bayern Munich Close In On Champions' League Second Round

A late goal from Tim Borowski meant that Bayern Munich snatched a clutch draw against Fiorentina in the Champions' League. Bayern's lead in Group F now looks insurmountable, and a place in the knock-out stages beckons.

Bayern Munich coach Juergen Klinsmann, center background, looks on during the Champions League group F soccer match between Fiorentina and Bayern Munich in the Artemio Franchi stadium in Florence, Italy, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008. At left, Fiorentina's Mario Alberto Santana of Argentina, and on right, Bayern's Tim Borowski of Germany.

An important point for coach Klinsmann and Bayern, but another unconvincing display.

Coach Juergen Klinsmann admitted after the game that Bayern Munich could easily have lost in Florence, though he did think that a draw was a fair reflection of the game.

The hosts Fiorentina grabbed the lead after 11 minutes, when Romanian international striker Adrian Mutu volleyed the ball home after some nice work on the right flank by Luciano Zauri.

Then for around an hour it was a largely one-sided match, with Fiorentina pushing forward, looking for their second goal. Michael Rensing in the Bayern goal was really earning his wages in the first half, making a string of crucial saves. The club's outspoken captain and midfield hard-man Mark van Bommel was disappointed with his side's showing:

Munich's Franck Ribery, left, and teammate Miroslav Klose, right, press Fiorentina's Zdravko Kuzmanovic, during the Champions League group F soccer match between Fiorentina and Bayern Munich in Florence's Artemio Franchi stadium , Italy, Wednesday, Nov. 5 , 2008.

Often the Bayern stars were chasing shadows

“We didn't play well in the first half, we showed too much respect and deserved to be a goal behind,” the Dutchman said.

But in the closing stages Fiorentina's back line went on the missing list and began ball-watching. Sniffing a chance, Frenchman Franck Ribery threaded the ball through the Italians' static defence, and Tim Borowski latched on to it inside the box and slotted the ball home. This 78th minute goal undid over an hour of good work from the hosts in just the blink of an eye.

The Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli said his team could have won the match if his players were a little more experienced on the big stage: “We were excellent for 70 minutes and then we collapsed,” Prandelli lamented. “We should have concentrated better.”

One foot in the Knockout Stages

Bayern Munich could have even taken victory, with the best of a slew of late chances falling to forward Miroslav Klose. He did the hard work, beating his man and getting a great look at the goal, but then blazed his shot over the bar.

Fiorentina's Adrian Mutu cheers after scoring, during the Champions League group F soccer match between Fiorentina and Bayern Munich in the Artemio Franchi stadium in Florence, Italy, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008.

Adrian Mutu opened the scoring in Florence

“We wanted to avoid a defeat, so 1-1 is just fine,” Klose said after the match.

The draw means Bayern remain top of Group F in the Champions' League Group phase, level on points with second position Lyon. Fiorentina are in third, five points adrift, and considering that the top two sides in the group proceed to the next round, it would take a minor miracle for the Italian outfit to oust either Lyon or Bayern with only two matches remaining.

“It's a really important point because it leaves Fiorentina well behind us and now we have a good chance of qualifying from the group,” Bayern coach Juergen Klinsmann told reporters after the game. “At half time we spoke about the need to find another gear and summoning up the desire to go out and score the goal we wanted. In the second half you sensed it was only a matter of time before we forced one over the line.”

The Champions League trophy on display in the Atatuerk stadium in Istanbul on 25.05.2005.

Bayern last won the Champions League in 2001

Welcome good news

New Bayern coach Juergen Klinsmann is still clinging to the positives of his reign at Bayern Munich. Despite the club showing signs of improvement, Bayern has started the season sluggishly – so much so that there were rumours of Klinsmann getting the sack just a few matches into the season.

Bayern may be on a winning run now, but the defending German champions and Bundesliga favorites are still four points adrift of league leaders Hoffenheim in the league.

With a key league match coming up on Sunday Nov. 9 against rivals Schalke – who are currently fourth in the league just one point behind Bayern – Klinsmann's men will probably be glad that reaching the final stages of the Champions' League is now looking like a formality.

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