By Marcus Christenson in Brussels
For the second time in UEFA Champions League Group A, FC Bayern München had to come from behind to rescue a result. Unlike a fortnight ago, though, the German side had to be content with a 1-1 draw against RSC Anderlecht following the dismissal of Claudio Pizarro.
The Peruvian's dismissal was the major talking point of a first half lacking in chances but not short on passion. Anderlecht did not need much of the second half to press home their advantage as Ivica Mornar scored before Hasan Salihamidzic set up fellow substitute Roque Santa Cruz for Bayern's equaliser. With four points, Bayern are now one point clear at the top of the group.
Anderlecht preserved their perfect Belgian league record at the weekend, recording a seventh straight victory. Swedish playmaker Pär Zetterberg scored a hat-trick in the 4-2 defeat of K. Heusden-Zolder but started on the bench along with veteran defender Glen De Boeck. Coming in were Marc Hendrikx and defender Vincent Kompany.
The 17-year-old Kompany could hardly have wished for a more daunting task, although Bayern were missing a plethora of players themselves. Willy Sagnol, Tobias Rau, Sebastian Deisler, Jens Jeremies, Mehmet Scholl and Alexander Zickler were among the absentees, with coach Ottmar Hitzfeld surprisingly selecting Martin Demichelis, recruited from CA River Plate, in midfield.
The home side would have been determined to make a positive start after losing at Olympique Lyonnais on Matchday 1, but it was Bayern who began with the verve which saw them come from behind to defeat Celtic FC a fortnight ago, forcing five corners in the first 13 minutes.
The busiest man on the pitch was the Anderlecht goalkeeper Daniel Zitka, yet he was able to repel Bayern, with some assistance from his defence, and from then on Hugo Broos's side were able to assert themselves on the game. In the 16th minute Anderlecht went close after Besnik Hasi prodded a free-kick into the path of his captain Walter Baseggio, whose shot fizzed over the bar.
Pizarro sent off
The chance seemed to lift Anderlecht, who perhaps could have done better with a free-kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the box following Bixente Lizarazu's strong challenge on Mornar. Hasi took the set-piece, but hit it straight at Thomas Linke. The game swung in Anderlecht's favour in the 35th minute when Pizarro was booked twice in quick succession to hand the home side a numerical advantage.
Anderlecht immediately attacked in front of a sell-out crowd, yet lacked the guile to unlock a Bayern defence which was able to stand firm until half-time. The same personnel started the second half for both sides, Pizarro excepted, and it was Anderlecht who almost struck first, Kompany nearly connecting with Hasi's free-kick for what would have been a first dream goal.
The opener was not long in coming though, as Mornar capitalised on some great work from Dindane Aruna who had latched on to Baseggio's through-ball and evaded Samuel Kuffour before releasing his team-mate on 53 minutes. Michael Ballack threatened to get Bayern back on terms with a low shot before winning two corners which both came to nothing.
Hitzfeld responded by introducing Santa Cruz and youngster Bastian Schweinsteiger for midfield duo Zé Roberto and Owen Hargreaves in the 63rd minute. They were followed ten minutes later by Salihamidzic, who came on for Kuffour. A minute later, Hitzfeld was left rubbing his hands at his acumen as Salihamidzic sent in a teasing centre which Santa Cruz powerfully headed in.