Bayern Munich fulfilled expectations with a 3-0 win over Guangzhou Evergrande to cruise into the final of the FIFA Club World Cup. In a meeting between the champions of Europe and Asia, Bayern were expectedly dominant against their counterpart from China. It took a while to get the breakthrough, but then came a blitz, with Bayern scoring three times in a seven-minute spell either side of half time through Franck Ribery, Mario Mandzukic and Mario Gotze.
The result could have been far more emphatic, but for Bayern rattling the woodwork on three occasions. For Guangzhou, though, there will be no disgrace in being beaten by a side that, if anything, have improved under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola from their treble-winning campaign last season. Indeed after winning their first AFC Champions League in October and beating Al Ahly in the quarterfinals already in Morocco, just getting to take on Bayern was an achievement in itself for a side that has enjoyed a rapid rise.
Bayern, meanwhile, will have their focus firmly directed on adding this global title to their already impressive array of trophies. The Bavarians will now await to see whether it is South American champions Atletico Mineiro or local side Raja Casablanca that they meet in Saturday’s final.
There was no surprise that Bayern controlled possession from the off in the semifinal in Agadir. Yet, under the tutelage of Italian World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi, the underdogs were doing a good job of frustrating Bayern.
Their parity in the match was becoming increasingly perilous, however. First, Thiago Alcantara hit the outside of the post with a low shot before fellow-midfielder Toni Kroos struck the bar. Finally, the long-hinted at breakthrough came in the 40th minute. Thiago had looked poised to score off of Mandzukic’s knock down before a goal-saving clearance, but goalkeeper Zeng Cheng was unable to keep out a follow-up volley from Ribery.
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The second goal arrived just four minutes later, with the two creators of the first goal again involved. This time Thiago produced a fine cross from the right from which Mandzukic stooped to head home at the back post.
There was to be little respite for Guangzhou, with the third goal coming just two minutes after the break. Gotze picked the ball up just outside the box to the right and struck a fine shot that may have got a slight deflection as it arrowed into the top corner of the net.
Ribery later struck the crossbar to complete a rare hat-trick, but Guangzhou can be pleased that they were able to avoid further damage in the remaining minutes.