FC Nantes Atlantique 0-1 FC Bayern München. FC Bayern München gave their chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League a considerable boost when Paulo Sergio's goal just past the hour secured a 1-0 victory in the Beaujoire stadium over Group A rivals FC Nantes Atlantique.
It was the result the title holders needed after an indifferent period but it was a huge setback for Nantes who have now lost both their opening fixtures in the second group stage by a single goal. For much of the first half it looked as if the home club could inflict a third defeat on French soil in what otherwise has been an undefeated run of 25 games for Bayern in Europe's elite competition. But it proved not to be.
No finishing touch
Their major deficiency was the absence of someone to put a finishing touch to several good opportunities. In contrast, Paulo Sergio made no mistake with Bayern's best - and there were precious few - opening, rising well to beat both goalkeeper Mickaël Landreau and a clutch of defenders to Owen Hargreaves's right-wing corner with 65 minutes on the clock.
The goal burned deep into Nantes' soul and they were barely able to raise their game again to reach the heights they had threatened before half-time when Stéphane Ziani and Mathieu Berson kept their attack moving with sweet distribution.
Chances go begging
Once they had settled down Nantes were able to pin Bayern back but the 22nd minute proved sadly typical of where they were lacking on the night. Nicolas Laspalles crossed into the heart of the Bayern defence from out on the right but Hassan Ahamada failed to make a meaningful contact and the ball drifted wide.
Pressure on Bayern
Nantes kept up the pressure. Nestor Fabbri was first to a corner but glanced his header too high. Olivier Quint, always a lively presence down the left, jinked his way inside but then, when presented with a good sight of goal, got under his attempt.
Elber left out
The growing suspicion then was that Nantes had to take advantage of one of those chances or suffer the consequences because Bayern, who surprisingly left out Giovane Elber, were not going to play second fiddle all night long. They came on strong themselves and from a Bixente Lizarazu whipped-in cross three red shirts got in each other's way, Paulo Sergio winning the race but planting his header over the top.
Niko Kovac unloaded a strong drive which Landreau then pushed around the post. Nantes came close again at the start of the second half when Ahamada directed his header towards goal only to find a defender in the way. Berson could have taken advantage from the rebound but shot wide.
More pep needed
Nantes brought on the experienced Romanian international Viorel Moldovan in an effort to bring more pep to their attack but it was Bayern who then seized the lead and the opportunity to return home with three precious points.