Bayern into Champions League KO stage with 4-2 win at Plzeň

PLZEŇ, Czech Republic (AP) — Leon Goretzka scored twice as Bayern Munich clinched its spot in the Champions League knockout stage with a 4-2 win at Czech champion Viktoria Plzeň on Wednesday.

Sadio Mané and Thomas Müller also scored as Bayern wrapped up the result in the first half to ensure it will finish among the top two teams in Group C due to Inter Milan’s dramatic 3-3 draw at Barcelona in the other group game.

Bayern leads with 12 points, followed by Inter with 7, then Barcelona with 4, while Plzeň is bottom with zero points after four games so far.

Many of the few traveling Bayern supporters missed their team’s first goal due to a boycott of the first 12 minutes in protest against high ticket prices. Members of Club No. 12 and other Südkurve Bayern fan groups issued a statement before the game saying 70 euros ($68) for the cheapest ticket is too much for the average supporter, and that they should be 20 euros ($19). They called on their own club to use its position “to campaign for fundamental changes in order to save football as we know and love it.”

Meanwhile, the team keeps scoring. Bayern hammered Plzeň 5-0 in Munich last week and wasted little time before starting in Pilsen.

Mané played a one-two with Goretzka before opening the scoring in the 10th minute, then Kingsley Coman set up Müller for the second goal four minutes later, when Plzeň’s defenders were all too late.

Müller set up Goretzka for an easy third as Plzeň’s defense again left the Bayern attackers much more space than they’re accustomed to in the Bundesliga.

But Müller left the field straightaway due to an apparent injury.

“It’s nothing serious, a nerve issue,” Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann said. “Nothing dramatic, no risk for the weekend.”

The 17-year-old Mathys Tel came on Müller’s place and Bayern carried as before.

Leroy Sané played a straight ball in behind the home defense for Goretzka to chip the goalkeeper for Bayern’s fourth in the 35th.

Plzeň coach Michal Bílek reacted with three changes at the break in a bid to provoke a response and was rewarded in the 62nd when Adam Vlkanova scored the first goal Bayern conceded in the competition so far after the visitors’ defense failed to clear the ball.

Jan Kliment then scored arguably the nicest goal of the evening in the 75th when he took Libor Holík’s pass with his first touch then turned to smash it past Sven Ulreich in the Bayern goal with his next.

Nagelsmann had already made his five changes, including bringing on the 16-year-old defender Paul Wanner for his Champions League debut.

“It’s not about resting (players), it’s about getting them all into rhythm,” Nagelsmann said. “I think we could have won both halves. Everyone always wants to play.”

Despite the goals conceded, Nagelsmann was ultimately pleased with his team’s performance.

“A very, very good game, much better than the home game. And we’re in the group with 12 points,” Nagelsmann said. “Twelve points from a Champions League group that was certainly the most difficult.”

Bayern players Manuel Neuer (shoulder injury), Matthijs de Ligt (hip problem), Alphonso Davies (bruised skull), Serge Gnabry (knee injury) and Jamal Musiala (coronavirus infection) all skipped the game and stayed in Munich.

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