Ten-man Bayern hit Cologne for three
Bayern Munich ensured they will finish the first half of the Bundesliga season in top spot with a convincing home win over Cologne this evening, despite playing for an hour with only ten men following Franck Ribery's exit for two cautions.
Ribery was dismissed in the 33rd minute, but the Bavarians still managed to take all three points with second-half goals from Mario Gomez, David Alaba and Toni Kroos.
The victory took Jupp Heynckes' side six points clear at the summit and assured them first place until at least the end of January, when the league resumes. For Cologne, it was their first defeat at the Allianz Arena, although they will still end 2011 in midtable.
Bayern started as they meant to go on with flowing, attacking football which kept Cologne pegged back in their own half. This is a situation Cologne have become used to on their previous four visits to this stadium, though, and their defensive tactics from the past seemed to be the secret to success again.
Indeed, they frustrated Bayern to the point that Ribery could no longer control his temper. After going to ground under the challenge of Henrique Sereno inside the penalty area, the Frenchman took exception to the Cologne defender's gesture for him to get back up onto his feet. He leapt up and went head to head with the Portuguese defender, with both players booked.
That was not the end of it, however, as Ribery approached Sereno again and grabbed him before once again making contact with his head, earning a second yellow card that he could have no complaints about.
Bayern's frustration turned to joy just three minutes into the second half, though, when Gomez scored one of his easiest goals this season. Thomas Muller did the hard work, unselfishly squaring the ball to Gomez, who was given an easy tap-in.
Alaba made it two in the 63rd minute, scoring his first goal at home this season when a corner defied everybody to find him totally alone at the far post. The Austrian international then turned provider for Kroos to wrap up the win in the 88th minute, turning to lift the ball past Michael Rensing from ten yards out.