Carlo Ancelotti rotated heavily for today’s match against Champions League minnows FC Rostov, resting some players and starting others (most notably, Holger Badstuber). Sven Ulreich stood between the sticks today for Manuel Neuer, but he may well have regretted it, as this Bayern B-side served up a poor performance against the same team they crushed 5-0 in Munich.
Bayern take, lose an early lead
Bayern opened the game with a flourish of offensive energy, as Douglas Costa and Rafinha pressed Rostock’s defense hard on the right, looking to deliver a lethal cross. The contrast in quality couldn’t have been starker, as the fleet-footed Costa and Ribery ran circles around their adversaries. Rostov was forced to rely on sheer numbers, clogging the penalty area.
Shockingly, it would be Rostov that nearly scored the game opener off of an incredible chance created by Cesar Navas. Navas lobbed a long ball forward to Aleksandr Erokhin, drawing Ulreich off his line and freezing Badstuber. Erokhin fortunately failed to deliver a solid shot into the open net, allowing Bernat just enough time to clear the slow-rolling ball off the line. It was the first, but not the last, of several defensive miscues that gave Rostov a fighting chance.
After testing Rostov’s defense for most of the half, Bayern finally took the lead ten minutes before halftime. An aggressive shot fired by Sanches at the near post was weakly cleared into open space in Rostov’s penalty area. Costa saw his chance and charged, hammering the ball into the net before anyone could react.
But complacent play by Costa and Boateng just before halftime would prove Bayern’s undoing. Costa fired a shockingly bad back pass to Boateng, misplaying it right to Dmitriy Poloz. Boateng saw he couldn’t stop the ball and retreated to close down Poloz, but Poloz passed to a wide open Azmoun, who dashed toward the goal. Boateng switched to him, but a little deft footwork by the striker caught him wrong-footed and he fell to the ground. Azmoun made short work of Sven Ulreich, and his well-taken shot would make the score tied 1-1 at halftime.
Rostov humble the Meister
The second half began somewhat more auspiciously for Bayern, but quickly turned ugly. After a very quiet first half, Franck Ribery dribbled and fired a perfect cross in to Philipp Lahm, but Lahm’s header from just seven yards out missed the goal. The captain had missed his chance for his first CL goal, and he knew it.
Then the unbelievable happened. A slip by Boateng gave Rostov another dangerous opportunity for Rostov. Trying to recover from his error, Boateng rushed back to challenge Noboa, but caught his left foot and brought him down in the penalty area. His and Azmoun’s partner in crime, Poloz, converted the ensuing penalty kick, giving Rostov a commanding 2-1 lead.
Bayern’s left side collectively responded to turn the game back around. Ribery changed forward and passed out wide to Renato Sanches. Drawing away the defenders, Sanches played the ball back in to Ribery who then slipped the ball past his man to Bernat who had come forward into space. Bernat made the most of his chance and put the ball in the back of the net. Bayern were back at 2-2.
Bayern remained vulnerable to the two-headed threat of Azmoun and Poloz, however, their second chance coming after Mats Hummels replaced an injured Boateng. Azmoun yet again made a breakaway, finding Poloz open in the center. Thiago could do no more than commit a tactical foul, giving Rostov a free kick just outside the penalty area. Taking the kick, Chistian Noboa beat the wall and deceived Ulrich, firing it gracefully into the net past him. Rostov took the lead for the last time: 3-2.
With fewer than twenty minutes to play, Ancelotti opted for a change. Thomas Müller replaced Sanches, and Bayern accordingly shifted to a 4-2-4, with Thiago and Lahm covering the midfield. Bayern now corralled Rostov into their own penalty area, but could not deliver a game-tying shot. Dzhanaev parried a dangerous late shot by Thiago.
Bayern Munich: Costa (35’), Bernat (52’)
Rostov: Azmoun (44’), Poloz (P - 49’), Noboa (67’)
Bayern Munich: Boateng (48')
Rostov: Granat (30’), Gatkan (57’)
Bayern XI: Ulreich; Bernat, Badstuber, Boateng (Hummels, 58’), Rafinha; Sanches (Müller, 73‘), Thiago, Lahm; Ribery, Lewandowski, Costa
Rostov XI: Dzhanaev; Granat, Navas, Mevlja; Kudryashov, Noboa, Gatcan, Erokhin, Kalachev (Terentyev, 87’); Poloz, Azmoun (Grigoryev, 82’)