Munich: Treble winners Bayern Munich launched their Bundesliga title defence with a commanding 3-1 victory over Borussia Moenchengladbach on Friday to mark a winning German league debut for new coach Pep Guardiola. Two first half goals in four minutes from Arjen Robben and Mario Mandzukic and a 69th minute penalty by David Alaba after Thomas Mueller had his spot kick saved a minute earlier, secured three points in a largely one-sided affair.
"We need results like this to build up our confidence because some of our players are still missing match practice," Guardiola said. Obviously we are satisfied with this win. We need to control the pace a bit more as those first 15 minutes in the second half the ball was going up and down," said the former Barcelona coach, who spent most of the game standing on the sidelines and gesticulating wildly.
Guardiola, who took over from Jupp Heynckes in the close season, fielded 10 of the 11 players who beat Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final in May. New signings Thiago Alcantara and Mario Goetze, brought in for more than 60 million euros in total, were ruled out with fever and a lack of training following injury respectively. It did not take long for Bayern's well-oiled machine, which also clinched the German league and Cup double last season, to start clicking.
ROBBERY IN ACTION
Robben, who scored the last-gasp winner in the Champions League final, chipped in a pin-point Franck Ribery delivery in the 12th minute for the lead as the pair, known as 'Robbery', picked up where they left off last season. It only took four more minutes for Bayern to strike again when Robben set up Ribery and keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved the Frenchman's effort but Croatia forward Mandzukic was on hand to tap in the rebound.
With Ribery's darting runs wreaking havoc in the Gladbach defence and the Bavarians twice hitting the woodwork, the hosts could have added more goals. Their back line, however, was less impressive, with Max Kruse left unmarked to squander a golden opportunity from close range. A mix-up between goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and defender Dante briefly put Gladbach back in the game four minutes before the break, with the defender sliding in for an own goal against his former team.
Bayern kept up the pressure in the second half and they added to their tally when Gladbach's Alvaro Dominguez managed to spectacularly give away two spot kicks for handball in a span of two minutes.
"I would not want to be a referee but it seems the rules are not very clear," Gladbach coach Lucien Favre complained about the consecutive spot kicks. Overall we left too many chances unused. We seldom have that many chances in Munich. It's a shame but for a first match it was positive."
Ter Stegen saved Mueller's penalty but the 24-year-old Spaniard again used his hand to clear from Robben and the keeper could do nothing to deny Alaba from the spot in the 69th. Last season's runners-up Dortmund travel to Augsburg on Saturday while Bayern Leverkusen, who finished third, entertain Freiburg.