Bayern survive Napoli scare
Bayern Munich survived a nervy second half to take a significant step towards the UEFA Champions League knockout phase with a 3-2 victory at home over Napoli.
The Bavarians led 3-0 through Mario Gomez's first-half hat-trick. However, Federico Fernandez reduced the home side's lead with his goal before the break and when he scored a second in the 79th minute it sparked a tense finish among the home support as they held on for the win after both sides had a man sent off in the latter stages.
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes admitted this week he has started to dream about winning the competition at the Allianz Arena next May and knew a win tonight would take them one step closer to the goal of contesting the final at their home ground, but more importantly it would put them in control of their own destiny in Group A.
The win did not guarantee Bayern a place in the last 16, but gives them the chance of sealing their passage in their next home game against Villarreal.
Bayern, as expected, made the early running as Luiz Gustavo and Thomas Muller both saw shots blocked. In the 17th minute their endeavours were rewarded as Gomez showed typical striker's instinct to get on the end of Daniel van Buyten's pass from the right and slot past Morgan De Sanctis from just inside the box.
Napoli looked to respond but were winded by a second Bayern blow. The hosts broke with speed and when Toni Kroos flew down the left flank and centred for Gomez, the striker made no mistake from close range.
The Italians had a brief stint forward as Gokhan Inler fired wide but Franck Ribery, Kroos and Gomez all had chances at the other end. Jerome Boateng's volley forced a save from De Sanctis before Bayern went 3-0 up. Again Kroos was involved, the young winger seeing his shot saved by De Sanctis before Gomez stole in to poke home the loose ball.
Napoli finally woke up and reduced the deficit by half-time, as Fernandez headed home Ezequiel Lavezzi's free-kick in the 45th minute. Lavezzi had a shot after a quiet opening to the second half and Philip Lahm forced De Sanctis into a smart save.
Camilo Zuniga was sent off for a second booking in the 71st minute before Holger Badstuber went off for Bayern six minutes later. But 11 minutes from time Napoli pulled another back, Fernandez this time heading Inler's cross down and in. It was Bayern who ultimately finished strongest, however, as the hosts took all three points.