Bayern Munich 2-0 Sao Paulo: Battling Bavarians dispatch Brazilians in Audi Cup semi-final
Goals from substitutes Mario Mandzukic and Mitchell Weiser saw the hosts record a victory over Paulo Autuori's side to book a place in tomorrow's final against Manchester City
By Ryan Bailey
Bayern Munich secured a 2-0 victory over a Sao Paulo side short of confidence thanks to second-half strikes from Mario Mandzukic and 19-year-old Mitchell Weiser and in the process secured their place in Thursday's Audi Cup final.
The majority inside the Allianz Arena on Wednesday evening were left frustrated as the Brazilian visitors defended resolutely during the first period as Pep Guardiola's star-studded side struggled to find the cutting edge in the final third despite their dominance.
However, the introduction of Mandzukic for Claudio Pizarro at half-time spurred the German champions into life as they hit the front just 10 minutes into the second period as the Croatian striker volleyed home Arjen Robben's cross before Weiser sealed the win with a late strike.
With the new Bundesliga season a little over a week away, Guardiola opted to make eight changes to the side that were beaten by Borussia Dortmund in last week’s German Super Cup as both Manuel Neuer and Franck Ribery returned from injury.Bayern struggled to break down a well-organised and resolute Sao Paulo rear-guard and were largely restricted to long-range efforts on goal but found Rogerio Ceni in inspired form as he produced save after save to frustrate Robben and Ribery in particular.
At the other end, Neuer was largely redundant in the Bayern goal but the new-look central defensive partnership of Dante and Martinez were kept on their toes by the lively Wellington and Aloisio, with the latter testing the handling of the German shot-stopper with a stinging effort.
As the half wore on, Bayern increased the tempo and went inches from taking a deserved lead on 38 minutes. Phillip Lahm, operating in midfield, got to the by-line before picking out Pizarro but his goal bound effort was hacked off the line.
The same pattern continued after the interval but the introduction of Mandzukic provided the hosts with a different attacking dimension. The Croatian striker headed Robben’s cross narrowly over with his first touch before converting his sides’ dominance into a deserved lead with a composed finish.
The breakthrough seemed to ignite Guardiola’s side and another eye-catching move involving Mandzukic, Ribery and Lahm nearly gifted Robben a goal but the delivery was just out of reach.
A host of substitutions from both managers disrupted the flow of the game before Mandzukic came close to doubling the lead from a tight angle but was denied by the Sao Paulo's inspired Brazilian goalkeeper.
The strength in depth at the Allianz Arena was highlighted as Thomas Muller, Xherdan Shaqiri and Jerome Boateng were all brought on from the bench during a fairly low-key and pedestrian-paced second period.
And it was two substitutes who combined to double the hosts’ advantage. Shaqiri broke free from midfield and unleashed a thunderous effort that rebounded off the post, but Weiser was on hand to slot home.
However, that wasn’t the end of the action as Boateng’s clumsy challenge saw the referee point to the spot. But, having been in such fine form, Ceni couldn’t cap an excellent personal performance with a goal as Neuer guessed right to parry his opposite number's penalty to safety.
Sao Paulo will now face AC Milan tomorrow evening while Bayern Munich take on Manchester City in the tournament final.
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