FC Bayern München missed out on top spot in UEFA Champions League Group A, despite enjoying an overwhelming territorial advantage, as they were held to a 1-1 draw by a resilient Club Brugge KV.
Claudio Pizarro opened the scoring for the away team with a powerful back-header, and also hit the crossbar with a second-half strike, but Javier Portillo's superb equaliser earned a point for Club Brugge, who will continue their European adventure in the UEFA Cup. The hosts were also indebted to the decision to disallow an added-time effort from Bayern substitute José Paolo Guerrero.
Club Brugge's achievement in frustrating the German Bundesliga leaders was all the more remarkable given this was Bayern's strongest available XI - such was Felix Magath's determination to secure pole position in the group ahead of Juventus and a home second leg in the Round of 16.
With Willy Sagnol suspended, the right-back berth went to German international left-back Philipp Lahm, making his first start of the season following cruciate ligament surgery. The other change brought Ali Karimi into midfield at Bastian Schweinsteiger's expense. Meanwhile, with third position and UEFA Cup football guaranteed, Club Brugge fielded a mixture of first-team regulars and fringe players with only five of the side in weekend league action retaining their places.
Nevertheless, the Belgian champions' coach Jan Ceulemans had promised a capacity crowd a spectacular night of football and his 3-4-3 formation contributed to an opening full of enterprise and technique, though disappointingly short on chances. Prior to Pizarro breaking the deadlock in the 21st minute, the only attempt on goal had come from Bayern midfielder Sebastien Deisler. It was from the German international's free-kick that the Peruvian striker conjured a clever finish to leave goalkeeper Tomislav Butina rooted to the spot.
At the other end, Sven Vermant fired over the crossbar and Philippe Clement headed wide as the hosts chased the equaliser. Those opportunities were a prelude to Portillo's wonderful strike on 32 minutes, scored with his weaker right foot. The forward, on loan from Real Madrid CF, cut inside Lahm and Deisler before unleashing an unstoppable curling shot from outside the area into Oliver Kahn's top corner. Portillo, who this week hinted he may leave the club in January as he wants to play more, pointedly ran to the dugout to celebrate with Ceulemans.
With news filtering through of Juventus's convincing half-time lead against SK Rapid Wien in Vienna, Magath rejigged his forward line in a desperate search for goals. Zé Roberto and José Paolo Guerrero replaced Karimi and Roy Makaay.
However, while Bayern were playing with renewed urgency, Butina in the Club Brugge goal was rarely threatened. Much of the visitors' menace came from Deisler, who was a danger with a stream of tempting crosses and his accuracy from dead-ball situations. But, with parity still reigning, Magath was forced into his third substitution as Schweinsteiger came on for the injured Owen Hargreaves.
Then, with 20 minutes remaining, Pizarro nearly registered his second goal, rattling the crossbar with a ferocious drive. By this stage Bayern were camped inside the Club Brugge half, yet were again frustrated when the same player nodded straight at Butina and also when Schweinsteiger blazed over from close range.
Club Brugge reprieved
At the death Deisler was denied his fourth UEFA Champions League goal in as many games as Butina made another fine stop, and then the match officials reprieved Club Brugge after Guerrero appeared to have belatedly won maximum points for Bayern.
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