FC Bayern München closed on the UEFA Champions League group stage with a 2-0 victory against FC Zürich in the first leg of their play-off tie.
Bastian Schweinsteiger gave Bayern the ideal start by opening the scoring after eight minutes and, despite a flurry of second-half missed chances, the German side eventually doubled their lead through Arjen Robben's curling shot. The visitors, already facing an uphill struggle in Tuesday's return leg, suffered a further blow when Mathieu Beda was sent off late on.
With this season's final staged in their home stadium, Bayern needed no extra motivation in their bid to reach the group stage and quickly set about their familiar passing game. Though Urs Fischer's charges fashioned the first chance, when Amine Chermiti headed wide, the home team broke the deadlock when Robben crossed from the left for Schweinsteiger to steer his header into the corner.
Buoyed by Robben and Franck Ribéry playing together for the first time this term, Jupp Heynckes' men were a constant threat from the flanks. They were unfortunate not to double their lead when captain Philipp Lahm broke into the box after combining with Ribéry, only to see his angled effort turned away by Johnny Leoni. Chermiti called Manuel Neuer into action at the other end, but Bayern's superiority was reflected in their advantage at the break.
The Bavarians maintained their dominance after the restart and could have increased their lead three times by the hour. Mario Gomez blazed wide from Ribéry's centre and though the Frenchman forced Leoni to parry with a fierce drive from the edge of the box, Lahm fluffed the rebound. Ribéry went even closer with a curling free-kick but was again left frustrated, this time by a post.
Any fears that Bayern might live to regret those missed opportunities were, however, soon laid to rest by Robben, who managed to exploit a gap on the right, slipped infield and sent a superb left-footed strike beyond the clutches of Leoni and into the far corner. Beda was shown a second yellow card in added time, making Zürich's uphill task next week appear even tougher.
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