Bastian Schweinsteiger began the long road to UEFA Champions League redemption with the opening goal in FC Bayern München's 2-1 Group F home win against Valencia CF amid late drama in Bavaria.
The Germany midfielder, whose miss in the shoot-out against Chelsea FC in last season's final cost Bayern home glory, supplied a deserved opener. A trademark strike from the superb Toni Kroos doubled the lead although a dramatic finale ensued. Nelson Valdez pulled one back in added time before Adil Rami was shown a second yellow card for felling Arjen Robben and Mario Mandžukić missed the subsequent penalty.
It was clear from the start that the visitors had come to defend, with former central defender Mauricio Pellegrino setting his Valencia side up sturdily in the hope of thwarting Bayern's fluid attacking game.
The lock was almost picked four minutes in, however, as Franck Ribéry, back on the left following injury and wearing boots emblazoned with the date 19/05/12 as an apparent incentive to banish the memories of that loss to Chelsea, burst away from his marker. The Frenchman's cross found Kroos in the centre, but the Germany midfielder fired over in space.
Undeterred, Kroos tried his luck twice from distance, the second with his weaker left foot stinging the palms of Diego Alves. The opportunities were born of Bayern's incessant probing. Record signing Javi Martínez, making his full debut, provided a cool presence in front of the back line, allowing his defensive midfield partner Schweinsteiger to press forward and break the deadlock with a firm, deflected finish from Robben's pass.
Valencia re-emerged for the second period with greater focus and enjoyed perhaps their best spell after the restart. Manuel Neuer was at full stretch to punch away an inviting Aly Cissokho cross, though Bayern soon resumed control. Kroos, a class act in attacking midfield, forced Diego Alves into a spectacular save with another left-foot effort before bending a cross over for Robben, who headed into the arms of the Valencia goalkeeper.
Kroos eventually crowned an excellent showing with a strike of real quality to effectively settle the tie. Although former Borussia Dortmund forward Valdez reduced the Spanish team's arrears in injury time, the three points were never in danger for Bayern, who could afford a late penalty miss from substitute Mandžukić as Diego Alves capped his own fine display with another stop.
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