Sunday, November 18, 2018

Rodinghausen 1 Bayern Munich 2: Pokal progress secured despite unimpressive performance

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 30 Oct 2018

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Bayern Munich were less than convincing in edging past fourth-tier Rodinghausen 2-1 to reach the DFB-Pokal third round on Tuesday.

Early goals from Sandro Wagner, his first of the campaign, and Thomas Muller were enough for victory but Niko Kovac was left with more questions than answers after a disjointed display.

Bayern began brightly as two goals inside the opening 13 minutes set up what appeared certain to be a walkover, even accounting for Renato Sanches’ failure to convert a 23rd-minute penalty.

Instead, their modest opposition presented an obdurate roadblock after Linus Meyer sensationally reduced the deficit after the restart, leaving the Bundesliga champions with a dissatisfying result akin to their narrow first-round victory over minnows Drochtersen/Assel.

Kovac called for goals in his pre-match news conference and Wagner responded by volleying home a neat one-touch move in the eighth minute.

Sanches supplied the final pass for that simple finish and five minutes later won the penalty that Muller confidently dispatched to double the lead, Daniel Flottmann adjudged to have dragged back his opponent.

The Portugal midfielder did partially taint an otherwise fine first half when he crashed his own spot-kick into the crossbar following Azur Velagic’s push on Leon Goretzka.

Greater embarrassment for the away side came four minutes after the interval as, from Kelvin Lunga’s splendid right-sided delivery, midfielder Meyer got ahead of Rafinha and expertly tucked past Manuel Neuer.

Niclas Heimann produced his third smart save of the contest to prevent Franck Ribery from restoring a two-goal buffer with just over 15 minutes remaining and, though, Neuer was not called into action at the other end, Rodinghausen did enough to shake the confidence of their illustrious visitors.

What does it mean? Four straight a flattering recent record

A winning run that now extends to four matches has eased the pressure on head coach Kovac, yet their narrow defeat of Mainz on Saturday and an uninspiring 90 minutes here suggest results are masking ongoing issues.

Sanches finding consistency

Sanches starred in the weekend win at Mainz and, even despite his first-half penalty miss, was very much among Bayern’s best in Osnabruck, linking well with team-mates and providing the primary creative spark.

Ribery out of sorts

Now 35, it was troubling to see former France international Ribery flailing at shooting opportunities and struggling to go past markers of far less repute.

What’s next?

Bayern are back in Bundesliga action at home to Freiburg on Saturday and will hope to maintain momentum ahead of AEK Athens’ visit in the Champions League next Wednesday.

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