FC Bayern München made a winning return to the UEFA Champions League after a first-half strike by Daniel Van Buyten secured a 1-0 victory over FC Steaua Bucureşti in Group F.
Bayern, who played UEFA Cup football last season after a run of ten consecutive appearances in Europe's élite club competition, came out narrowly on top after the Belgium defender's 15th-minute header settled an evenly balanced game. Marius Lăcătuş's Steaua, who travel to ACF Fiorentina on Matchday 2, will be ruing several missed opportunities and looking to make amends in Florence.
Bayern on the attack
The away team were quick to settle, with a lot of their forward momentum coming down the right flank through wing back Christian Lell and Steaua's defence struggling to keep its shape. It was no surprise when the German champions took the lead in the 15th minute or that Lell was involved, with the defender drawing a foul by János Székely. Bastian Schweinsteiger curled over the free-kick from the right and Van Buyten got in first with a glancing header into the far corner that gave keeper Robinson Zapata no chance.
Steaua so close
Steaua shrugged off the setback and could easily have been level seven minutes later, when midfielder Florin Lovin let fly a wickedly swinging shot which Bayern keeper Michael Rensing could only parry. António Semedo was first to the loose ball but could only spear it into the side-netting. Bayern looked good value for their advantage. However, they needed another let-off in the 32nd minute when Steaua playmaker Dayro Moreno fizzed in a low shot and Rensing's miscued block sent the ball on to the post and out.
Both sides kept the tempo high as Steaua probed for an equaliser and Bayern striker Luca Toni, making his UEFA Champions League debut, kept Zapata busy at the other end. The Colombian produced two superb stops to deny first a booming volley from Schweinsteiger, and then a far-post effort from the Italian as he met Miroslav Klose's inviting cross from the right.
Bayern coach Jürgen Klinsmann swapped Klose for Lukas Podolski at half-time, yet it was the Steaua Stadium hosts who appeared the more dangerous after the interval. They should have equalised in the 58th minute when Moreno, despite being on the ground, managed somehow to scoop the ball through to Arthur Bernhardt. The Brazilian forward spun round on the spot to fire in a low shot that had Rensing beaten but ricocheted out from the left-hand post.
Bayern weathered the storm and the four-time European champions failed to take a fine opportunity to inflict what would have been a telling second strike on the 2007/08 Romanian league runners-up. Toni was put clean through on the break, only for the Bundesliga's top scorer of last season to drive straight at the advancing Zapata. Steaua kept searching for a breakthrough, however, and Moreno, their best player on the night, smacked in a low attempt late on which tested Rensing.
No second goal
The visitors, who host Olympique Lyonnais in two weeks' time, refused to give up the chase for a second goal and Lucio was agonisingly close with a drive that flashed just wide. Even so, the Munich team, still without France playmaker Franck Ribéry after an ankle injury at UEFA EURO 2008™, capped a solid performance with an ideal result on their return to the top table.