Five-time winners Bayern Munich eased past AS Roma 2-0 with goals from Franck Ribery and Mario Goetze on Wednesday to advance to the Champions League knockout stage as Group E winners with two games to spare.
Frenchman Ribery slotted in seven minutes before the break and Goetze volleyed in midway through the second half as the impressive Bavarians notched their fourth win in four matches to become the first German team to secure a group win that early.
Undefeated in the Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup this season, Bayern are in top spot on 12 points with two games left to play and have now firmly established themselves as one of the favourites for the title they last won in 2013.
“I am satisfied with the way we played tonight,” Bayern coach Pep Guardiola told reporters. “I am happy to have these players, they are always eager and ready to play.”
“Roma didn’t want to suffer again so they played very defensive, with six defenders. But we were dominant, especially in the second half.”
Roma, desperate to avoid a repeat of their 7-1 home demolition by Bayern this month, piled bodies into defence and kept pace for almost the entire first half but were eventually outclassed and stayed in second place on four points.
“We are aware that Bayern are a few steps ahead of us right now so we tried to adapt,” said Roma coach Rudi Garcia.
“They are a very strong side and they proved it once again. We had a good tactical and mental approach to the game. I think we cancelled the bad image of the game in Rome.”
Nine-man Manchester City slumped to a 2-1 loss to CSKA Moscow to stay in last place on two and the Russian are third, also on four.
“We knew it would not be that easy as in the first game,” said Bayern captain Philipp Lahm.
“They were very defensive, a six-man defence and it ‘s difficult to create chances like that. But we controlled the game throughout and managed to score at the right time.”
“It’s November we still have things to do and being in all three competitions is a good position to be in.”
With in-form winger Arjen Robben, Roma’s tormentor earlier this month ruled out of the game due to a stomach bug, coach Pep Guardiola opted to leave Thomas Mueller on the bench and named Ribery for only his second start of the season.
The Italians, with both Francesco Totti and top scorer Gervinho on the bench, were disciplined at the back, working extremely hard to keep the Germans well away from their box.
Bayern’s Juan Bernat went close in the 17th minute but his shot was cleared at the last instance by Vassilis Torosidis and Lahm’s shot was easily blocked by Lukasz Skorupski.
Roma’s best chance fell to Radja Nainggolan, who broke clear but with only keeper Manuel Neuer scuppered his chance with a bad first touch.
But it all changed when Ribery beautifully turned in David Alaba’s cutback in the 38th.
With Roma forced to come forward Bayern found space much more easily and came close with Alaba and Medhi Benatia early in the second half.
Germany international Goetze was left unmarked and killed off the game with an awkward volley in the 64th minute as Bayern extended their unbeaten run to 16 matches in all competitions.
Neuer made two spectacular saves to deny Gervinho and Nainggolan late in the game and keep his third clean sheet in four group games, reports Reuters.
Bayern 2 – 0 Roma
Man City 1 – 2 CSKA
Ajax 0 – 2 Barcelona
Paris St G 1 – 0 Apoel
NK Maribor 1 – 1 Chelsea
Sporting 4 – 2 Schalke
Ath Bilbao 0 – 2 FC Porto
Shakt 5 – 0 BATE