Buddhism hits Bavaria as Bayern bag karmic equalizer | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 20.11.2012
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Buddhism hits Bavaria as Bayern bag karmic equalizer

Bayern Munich have drawn 1-1 in Valencia and booked their ticket to the last 16 of the Champions League. Munich had every reason to feel aggrieved when they went behind, but quickly restored the balance.

German international Thomas Müller tied the score late in the game to earn Bayern a point in Valencia and an early pass out of the group phase in the Champions' League.

The Bavarians never once looked like the visitors, dominating possession - perhaps even more so before gaining a personnel advantage half an hour into the game. In the final third of the pitch, however, Bayern uncharacteristically struggled to carve out decent opportunities. Central defender Dante was among the most prolific shooters, getting his head to a string of set pieces.

Despite Bayern's early dominance, winning what seemed like an endless flow of corners and free kicks, the best early chance of the game fell to Valencia's best player on the night, Sofiane Feghouli. Keeper Manuel Neuer, who seems always to remain alert even in the (frequent) matches where he might as well be unemployed, dropped low to his right to deal with powerful close-range effort.

British referee Howard Webb (L) shows a red card to Valencia's defender Barragan (R) during their group F Champions League soccer match played at Mestalla stadium, in Valencia, eastern Spain, on 20 November 2012. (Photo via dpa)

'You can go take a bath for that one, pal,' Howard Webb seemed to say

Valencia's right back, Antonio Barragan, had picked up an early and perhaps slightly harsh yellow card from British referee Howard Webb. After 33 minutes, though, he committed a reckless and very late sliding challenge on David Alaba, prompting Webb not to give him a second yellow, but simply a straight red card. Unlike some of the more dramatic moments later in the match, it was difficult to contest the official's decision.

Theatrics and tactics

The understaffed hosts improved once they lost a player, reorganizing very effectively and starting to treat possession with more care. If their advances did break down, it was often when one of their attackers - most notably striker and captain Roberto Soldado - decided that it was time to go to ground in the hope of winning a free kick.

A similar piece of playacting from Andres Guardado after 76 minutes ultimately led to the opening goal. As Guardado writhed on the floor, action replays failed to show what the already-booked Dante had actually done to the Valencia midfielder. Webb was not sufficiently taken in to award Dante another yellow, but he did whistle for the free kick.

Valencia's Ever Banega (L) and Munich's Thomas Müller vie for the ball during the Champions League Group F soccer match between Valencia CF and FC Bayern Munich at Camp de Mestalla in Valencia, Spain, 20 November 2012. (Photo via dpa)

It was a game more liberally sprinkled with fight than finesse

From the subsequent attack, Feghouli fired a low show that took a sizeable deflection off Dante's hand and left Neuer helpless in goal.

With reason to feel at least a little robbed, Bayern went straight back up the other end with the kind of purpose they had failed to demonstrate all evening - leveling the score within five minutes.

Indefatigable captain Philipp Lahm, as willing as ever running forward from right-back, broke free and delivered a low cross into the box. Substitute strikers Mario Mandzukic and Mario Gomez both unselfishly elected not to take tricky shots, with Gomez instead steering the ball on to Thomas Müller with his heel. Müller was on hand to drive the ball low into the bottom corner from the back post.

Valencia went in to the game with a golden ticket out of Group F, thanks to Lille's earlier 2-0 away victory over BATE Borisov. For Bayern, the draw ultimately sufficed to secure qualification a game ahead of schedule. Given their shock defeat against BATE earlier in the group phase, that takes the pressure off for the return fixture in Munich.