FC Viktoria Plzeň 0-1 FC Bayern München
Mario Mandžukić's second-half strike earned Bayern a record-equalling ninth successive UEFA Champions League win and a place in the last 16.
Article top media content
Substitute Mario Mandžukić scored the only goal as FC Bayern München defeated a valiant FC Viktoria Plzeň to move into the knockout stages with a record-equalling ninth successive UEFA Champions League win.
Hitherto irresistible in Group D, their 5-0 victory in the reverse fixture included, the holders had been expected to march triumphantly into the last 16. Instead, Josep Guardiola's men were frustrated by Plzeň's endeavour as much as their own uncharacteristic shortcomings in the final third until Mandžukić headed in after 65 minutes.
Plzeň had promised a more proactive approach than during their loss in Germany and their positive intentions were soon confirmed. Inside the opening five minutes there was a fleet-footed raid from right-back František Rajtoral and shot on target – the Czech champions' first against Bayern in either match – from Michal Ďuriš.
The hosts' initial burst was, however, quickly becalmed as Bayern warmed to their task in Bohemia. Matúš Kozáčik sprang into action to clutch David Alaba's free-kick before Bayern's trademark passing and movement – as crisp as the Czech air – brought Bastian Schweinsteiger a shooting opportunity inside the box; the midfielder's first-time strike pinged off the far post with Kozáčik powerless.
Though Bayern continued to press, at times to almost suffocating effect, they were unable to either find the telling final ball or, when the target did loom into view, produce a goalbound effort to significantly unsettle Kozáčik. Manuel Neuer would undoubtedly have been shaken out of his otherwise comfortable evening had a Daniel Kolář header been on target after he had surged onto a glorious Pavel Horváth cross.
For all Plzeň's thrust, the feeling Bayern would eventually cut through nagged. They did quickly after the restart with a sharp one-two between Thomas Müller and Philipp Lahm before the latter poked a shot beyond Kozáčik only for the lunging Marián Čišovský to brilliantly clear off his own goal line. Daniel Van Buyten glanced a Franck Ribéry corner just wide of the far post as Bayern bared their more pragmatic streak and Ribéry, racing onto a long ball, then lost out when face-to-face with Kozáčik.
A surprise scoreline was just beginning to harden into a potential reality when Mandžukić, introduced six minutes earlier, glided away from his markers to nod in Lahm's centre. Plzeň had chances to equalise, through Stanislav Tecl, but could not take them as their UEFA Champions League bid ended. For Bayern it is onwards and upwards: victory over PFC CSKA Moskva next time out will break FC Barcelona's 2002/03 record of nine straight wins.