Bayern Munich 2 – Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen 0


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France World Cup winger FRANCK RIBERY (right) of Bayern Munich focuses intently as Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen’s rugged Greece international defender KYRIAKOS PAPADOPOULOS sticks in a foot to tackle the ball away during the Bundesliga match at the sold-out Allianz Arena in the Bavarian section of southern Germany.
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2/26/12
Bundesliga
Spieltag # 23

2 – BAYERN MUNICH ——————————– Ribery 36′, 55′
0 – SCHALKE 04 GELSENKIRCHEN

A pair of fantastic finishes within twenty minutes of each other on both sides of the halftime whistle were more than enough to provide the record German champions with a much-needed boost of morale as BAYERN MUNICH blanked visiting, long-time rival SCHALKE 04 GELSENKIRCHEN 2-0 and reclaimed second place in the Bundesliga standings.

In a match that featured plenty of end-to-end stuff at the start, the Bavarians had far better of the chances but found one-time Germany international goalkeeper TIMO HILDEBRAND to be in standout form between the sticks for die Koenigsblauen. The 32-year-old veteran, who spent last season as cover at Portuguese club Sporting Lisbon, was actually making his first start in the German top flight since appearing for TSG 1899 Hoffenheim back in mid-April of 2010. But Hildebrand, who now has 261 Bundesliga games under his belt to go along with seven caps for Deutschland in his career, had no trouble pulling off three quality saves in the opening seven minutes alone for Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen.

Germany World Cup goalkeeper MANUEL NEUER, who was purchased this past summer by Bayern Munich from die Koenigsblauen for the considerable transfer fee of 18.0 million Euros, would be needed at the other end of the pitch to make a sharp save from the fierce header of Schalke 04’s veteran Germany international defender CHRISTOPH METZELDER, the one-time Real Madrid backliner, before the unfortunate Hildebrand made a massive mistake to change the course of the entire match in the 36th minute.

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Germany international HOLGER BADSTUBER (28), the realiable defender who still has not scored a goal for Bayern Munich in 33 matches in all competitions this season, stabs a rebound just wide of the Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen goal in full view of the Bayern Munich mascot, BERNI, late in the first half of the Bundesliga match at the sold-out Allianz Arena.
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Bayern Munich’s Brazil international midfielder LUIZ GUSTAVO won a duel in his own third and delivered an expertly-weighted long ball down the left flank for France World Cup winger FRANCK RIBERY. The Schalke 04 goalkeeper inexplicably came charging well out of his area in an ill-advised attempt to cut the pass off, but the diminutive Frenchman skillfully lobbed the adventurous Hildebrand and retrieved the ball on the other side. Ribery then stroked the ball into the unguarded net for a most critical first goal of the match.

The Bavarians might have increased their lead further before the break but Hildebrand quickly returned to form with a series of saves including an astonishing, point-blank save from Germany World Cup winger THOMAS MUELLER; Neuer also did well to tip an absolute rocket from Schalke 04’s Austria international left back CHRISTIAN FUCHS over the crossbar just ahead of the intermission.

Bayern Munich went right back on attack in search of a second just after the restart but found no luck when a header from Germany international defender HOLGER BADSTUBER was turned away by the crossbar. The in-form Ribery, though, soon settled matters after playing the old one-two with Mueller and firing a shot that took a slight deflection off Schalke 04’s Greece international defender KYRGIAKOS PAPADOPOULOS before finding the back of the net in the 55th minute. There would be no way back for Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen, then, as Ribery registered his 10th Bundesliga goal of this 2011/12 football season and propelled Bayern Munich to a most satisfying (not to mention, sorely needed) victory.

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Germany international striker MARIO GOMEZ of Bayern Munich (right), who remains tied at the top of the league scoring chart with Holland international striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar of die Koenigsblauen on 18 goals this season, steps on the foot of Schalke 04 Gelsenkirchen’s sliding Greece international defender KYRIAKOS PAPADOPOULOS immediately following a tackle during the Bundesliga match at the always-filled-to-capacity Allianz Arena in Bavaria.
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BAYERN MUNICH : Neuer – Rafinha, Boateng, Badstuber, Lahm – Luiz Gustavo, Alaba – Robben, Mueller (Tymoshchuk 89′), Ribery – Gomez (Olic 72′)

SCHALKE 04 GELSENKIRCHEN : Hildebrand – Hoewedes, Papadopoulos, Metzelder (Uchida 84′), Fuchs – Matip (Holtby 65′), Hoeger – Farfan, Draxler (Obasi 57′) – Raul, Huntelaar

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