Super Mario Gomez fired a first-half hat-trick as Bayern edged to victory in a turbulent midweek meeting with Napoli, both sides finishing with ten men and the resilient Italians coming perilously close to making off with a point on an incident-filled evening in Munich.
But FCB clung on to win, extending their phenomenal home record to nine straight wins and moving to within a point of a guaranteed berth in the Champions League Round of 16, although some of the gloss came off the victory at the sight of Bastian Schweinsteiger being stretchered off in the 52nd minute, clearly in acute pain from a nasty shoulder injury, later diagnosed as a broken collar bone.
The 66,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw underdogs Napoli start brightly, but Gomez cracked three goals in 25 first-half minutes to put Jupp Heynckes’ men firmly in the driving seat. Stand-in centre-back Federico Fernandez kept the contest alive with a header on the stroke of half-time, but the game turned a touch scrappy after the injury to Schweinsteiger and a touch of niggle crept in, culminating in Juan Zuniga’s dismissal on 70 minutes for two fouls on Franck Ribery in quick succession.
The sides were numerically level again just six minutes later when Holger Badstuber also contrived to collect a second booking, and there was yet another twist when Champions League debutant Fernandez pulled another goal back with ten minutes still to play. Both sides had chances in the hectic closing stages, but FCB held on to claim three enormously important points.
The result, combined with Manchester City’s victory away to Villarreal in the parallel fixture, means the German league leaders are sitting pretty at the top of Group A on ten points from four matches, three clear of the Premier League side and five ahead of Napoli. The Bavarians are next in action late on Sunday afternoon in the Bundesliga trip to state rivals Augsburg, the final match prior to the last international break of the calendar year.
Heynckes made two changes to the side which dismissed Nürnberg 4-0 in the domestic league at the weekend, Jerome Boateng taking over from Rafinha at right-back, and Luiz Gustavo replacing Anatoliy Tymoshchuk alongside fit-again Schweinsteiger in central midfield.
That meant Manuel Neuer took up station between the sticks behind a back four of Badstuber, Daniel van Buyten, Boateng and captain Philipp Lahm, with Ribery and Thomas Müller on the left and right respectively, and Toni Kroos operating behind lone striker Gomez.
For the visitors, boss Walter Mazzarri put his faith in young Argentine Fernandez to deputise for suspended skipper Paolo Cannavaro at centre-back, with Blerim Dzemaili replacing Walter Gargano (hamstring) alongside Gökhan Inler in an all-Swiss international central midfield.
Once Dutch referee Björn Kuipers whistled play underway on a cool and foggy autumn night in Munich, Fernandez’ fellow-countryman Ezequiel Lavezzi put a cross-cum-shot and a whipped drive just wide as the Serie A side started well, although Napoli keeper Morgan de Sanctis was called into action after ten minutes, grasping Gustavo’s curler only at the second attempt.
The home side snapped into gear with 17 minutes played, Schweinsteiger threading a superb pass between the Napoli centre-backs to Gomez, whose fabulous first touch took him past Salvatore Aronica and created space for a firm shot on the turn past De Sanctis’ despairing dive.
Boateng lunged to block Edinson Cavani’s shot from the edge of the box as the visitors responded to the setback by stepping up their attacking efforts, but that simply handed FCB space for the first time, and Ribery hared clear on a brilliant counter-attack leading to Munich’s 23rd-minute second. The France star’s glorious crossfield ball found Kroos, who dinked a pass behind the defence for Gomez, playing off the shoulder of the last man, to steer the ball over the line from close range.
Italian heads went down for a spell and Bayern were knocking it about freely now, Fernandez just hassling enough to prevent Gomez doing more than shoot straight at De Sanctis, the keeper beating out Ribery’s near-post shot after a long and patient passing move, and Gomez poking narrowly wide of the far post following a slick interchange between Ribery and Müller. De Sanctis threw out an arm to deny Schweinsteiger from another Kroos chip, and then dealt capably with Boateng’s firm 25-yard drive.
But although the keeper got down smartly to Kroos’ low shot from Ribery’s clever backheel in the box, Gomez was on hand to force the rebound over the line and complete his hat-trick after a mere 42 minutes. It looked all over at this point, but the battling Italians kept the contest alive on the stroke of half-time when Fernandez rose unmarked to power a header past Neuer from Lavezzi’s free-kick.
The sides emerged unchanged for the second half, but the pace dropped considerably for a while, the muted attacking efforts at either end overshadowed by the aerial collision between Inler and Schweinsteiger which ended with the FCB man carried from the field with what looked like a serious shoulder injury.
Tymoshchuk joined the fray from the bench and Neuer made a routine save from Lavezzi’s dipping shot, before the darker side of the Italian game raised its ugly head and Fernandez, Cavani and Zuniga were all booked for crude challenges, Colombia star Zuniga foolishly earning himself a red card after piling into Ribery barely more than a minute after seeing a first yellow.
Badstuber was guilty of a similarly rash moment when he ran across Cavani’s path, allowing the striker to hurl himself to the turf and leaving referee Kuipers with little option but to administer a second booking and sending-off, and there was another turn for the worse after 79 minutes when Inler curled a free-kick to the far post for Fernandez to rise above Van Buyten and head over Neuer into the far corner.
That set up a frantic closing phase, Mazzarri sending on Goran Pandev and David Alaba taking over from Ribery, the Austrian almost adding a fourth in stoppage time and the man on loan from Inter to Napoli prodding just past the far post, before a startling final incident as de Sanctis, up for a corner, raced back to hack Gomez’ shot from inside his own half off the Napoli line.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley
|Bayern Munich - SSC Napoli 3-2 (H-T: 3-1)|
|Bayern Munich||Neuer - Boateng, Van Buyten, Badstuber, Lahm - Luiz Gustavo, Schweinsteiger (Tymoshchuk 53) - Müller, Kroos, Ribéry (Alaba 80) - Gomez|
|Substitutes:||Butt, Rafinha, Pranjic, Petersen, Olic|
|SSC Napoli||De Sanctis - Campagnaro, Fernandez, Aronica (Dossena 42) - Maggio, Dzemaili (Pandev 84), Inler, Zuniga - Hamsik, Lavezzi - Cavani|
|Substitutes:||Rosati, Grava, Fideleff, Santana, Mascara|
|Referee:||Björn Kuipers (Netherlands)|
|Goals:||1-0 Gomez (17), 2-0 Gomez (23), 3-0 Gomez (42), 3-1 Fernandez (45), 3-2 Fernandez (79)|
|Yellow Cards:||Badstuber, Boateng / Dzemaili, Fernandez, Zuniga, Cavani|
|Yellow/Red Cards:||Zuniga (70, second bookable offence), Badstuber (76, second bookable offence)|