MUNICH, Germany (AFP) – Bayern Munich confirmed both their place in the Champions League knockout phase and status as Group E winners with two games to spare after Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Roma.
Goals by France winger Franck Ribery and Germany’s Mario Goetze sealed the win which put the Bavarians into the last 16 with a perfect 12 points so far.
Bayern collected their fourth straight win to give them an unassailable eight-point lead before their remaining group matches at bottom side Manchester City and home to CSKA Moscow next month.
The victory came at a price as left-back David Alaba injured the medial ligament in his knee, with a scan due Thursday, and coach Pep Guardiola expects him to miss the rest of the year.
“It’s a real pity, he’s really important for us, but it looks like he will be out for two or three months and he’ll play again after Christmas,” said Guardiola.
Despite losing to Bayern home and away, Roma are still primed to join Munich in the knockout phase as they stay second in the group, but level on four points with CSKA whom they play away in three weeks.
“We can leave here with our heads held high and that was our goal here,” said Roma coach Rudi Garcia.
“I think we cancelled out the bad image of the game in Rome. They are a very strong side and they proved it once again.”
As Guardiola had predicted, the hosts encountered a far more robust Roma defence compared to their record 7-1 routing of the Italians in Rome a fortnight ago.
Ribery gave Bayern a first-half lead at the Allianz Arena after 38 minutes having also scored in the first-leg romp.
“It was only a question of time when we would score once we got the game under control,” asserted goalkeeper Manuel Neuer
Goetze then netted the second with a goal reminiscent of his World Cup final winning-effort when he flicked on Robert Lewandowski’s second-half cross to put the result beyond doubt after 64 minutes.
Guardiola even took the luxury of resting stars Thomas Mueller, Arjen Robben and Dante.
Roma needed more than 80 minutes to produce a single clear chance although Bayern still endured a frustrating first 45 minutes, played predominantly in the Italians’ half, before Ribery struck.
There was to be no repeat of the 5-0 half-time scoreline Bayern had posted in the first-leg.
Goetze squandered an early chance just to the left of the goal on 18 minutes, then Bayern captain Philipp Lahm forced Roma goalkeeper Lukasz Skorupski into a save on 22 minutes.