MUNICH - Injury-plagued Bayern Munich had
luck on their side when, helped by two own goals, they overcame
CFR Cluj 3-2 on Tuesday to cement their place at the top of
Champions League Group E.
Bayern, whose European performances in early season have
contrasted with some inconsistent displays in the Bundesliga,
were missing half a dozen first choice players through injury.
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"We have not had much luck so far this season but tonight we
were very lucky," said Bayern coach Louis van Gaal.
"But it is also hard when the opponents play with 10 men at
the back. Overall I think we deserved to win," he told
LIVE: Minute-by-minute coverage as it happened
Cluj, third in the group on three points, were bolder at the
start and took a deserved lead when Portuguese defender and
captain Cadu headed in a Roberto De Zerbi free kick at the far
post in the 27th minute.
Felice Piccolo had missed from almost the same spot minutes
earlier, exposing Bayern's makeshift defence.
With injured captain Mark van Bommel, Ivica Olic, Miroslav
Klose, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery watching from the stands,
the hosts got an unexpected equaliser on 32 minutes when Cadu
deflected a Toni Kroos effort into his own goal.
Worse was to follow for the Romanians as five minutes later
defender Cristian Panin chested in a Bayern corner kick for
their second own goal.
The Romanians refused, however, to give up and came
agonisingly close to an equaliser just before the break when
Lacina Traore beat the offside trap to race clear and rattle the
post with a low drive.
Bayern striker Mario Gomez notched his fourth goal in two
games, after scoring a hat-trick at the weekend, to make it 3-1
in the 77th minute.
Culio cut the deficit with four minutes remaining, beating
keeper Hans-Joerg Butt with a well-struck shot but Cluj failed
to grab what would have been a deserved equaliser despite some
desperate last-gasp attacks.
"We have to be thankful today because all our goals were a
bit strange," said Gomez, who has spent much of the season on
the bench. "But football is like that. Sometimes it does not
work for weeks and then suddenly your luck is back."
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