Champions League

Alonso red mars milestone

2015-02-18 08:34
Xabi Alonso (Supplied)
Xabi Alonso (Supplied)

Lviv - Sent off in a drab goalless draw against Shakhtar Donetsk was probably not how Bayern Munich's Xabi Alonso envisioned celebrating his 100th Champions League appearance.

The 33-year-old playmaker saw red in the second half of a feisty encounter in Lviv, leaving his team mates to see out the remainder of a cagey stalemate.

While Bayern remain strong favourites to reach the quarter-finals of the competition they won for a fifth time in 2013, they will have to rediscover some attacking fluency in next month's second leg in Munich.

They will also need to find a way past Shakhtar without Alonso, who will have to wait until at least the next round before making his 101st appearance after a clumsy 65th minute challenge on Alex Teixeira brought about a second yellow card.

While Alonso's dismissal effectively ended Bayern's hopes of pushing for victory in Ukraine, manager Pep Guardiola was not prepared to lay any blame at the Spaniard's door.

"I think he (Alonso) played really well in this game," fellow Spaniard Guardiola told reporters.

Bayern's attacking talents were largely blunted by an organised Shakhtar side, who scrapped their way to a well-deserved draw.

Arjen Robben was often Bayern's best attacking outlet but the Bavarians' other forward options failed to fire, including Thomas Mueller, who fluffed their best chance when he volleyed over in the first half.

Striker Robert Lewandowski was left on the bench until the 75th minute as Bayern looked happy to play out a draw rather than risk going into the second leg behind.

Shakhtar, who had not played a competitive game for two months due to their winter break, face a tough task to win away in Munich but manager Mircea Lucescu remains confident.

"If Bayern edge us out, they will play in the final in Berlin," he told reporters.

"I am pleased with the result and with the facts everyone around me is pleased. With regard to the situation we have been living in and lack of competitive practice it was very important to preserve our chances for the game in Munich...

"I only regret we did not start to play our usual football after Xabi Alonso was sent off."


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