Bayern Munich and Shakhtar Donetsk settled for a goalless draw in a keenly contested Uefa Champions League round of 16 first leg tie at the Arena Lviv on Tuesday.
Coach Pep Guardiola’s men ended the match with ten men after Xabi Alonso’s 100th appearance in Europe’s elite competition was cut short for two bookable offences.
The match, staged hundreds of miles from Shakhtar’s Donbas Arena due to conflict in Kiev, was the Ukrainian’s first competitive game since their Match Day 6 draw with FC Porto ten weeks ago, and despite enjoying 59 per cent of possession; Bayern could not just fancy a breakthrough in the end to say the least.
Bayern went into the clash buoyed by their biggest Bundesliga win since 1984 having hammered Hamburger SV 8-0 at the weekend. That notwithstanding, Shakhtar stood toe-to-toe with their guest and even frustrated them into numerical disadvantage with Spaniard Alonso ending his memorable night with a bit of a blip.
Bayern have already played four matches in 2015 and aside friendlies Shakhtar have been rusty on a winter break, and how wouldn’t that tell in a Champions League crucial stage when every minute detail counts. The Bavarians were the best team from the blast of the whistle and could have nosed ahead inside two minutes but for Bastian Schweinsteiger to volley wide after connecting with a pinpoint Arjen Robben delivery.
Thomas Muller had a chance in the 10th minute to grab his fourth goal of the tournament but poked his shot wide.
Robben dazzled and mesmerized in the right-hand touchline but feeding the frontmen around the box became a herculean task for the Dutch international.
And as the proceeding gradually wore on, Mircea Lucescu’s side off course found their rhythm and every time a home player ran into space with the ball a huge roar goes up at the Lviv Arena.
The home fans were nonetheless treated to an Alex Texeira free-kick from about 30 yards, which took a bounce and was spilled by Manuel Neuer before the Ballon d’Or losing finalist gathered at the second asking.
Bayern enjoyed a huge chunk of first half possession against a disciplined Shakhtar side who had plenty of bodies behind the ball, and eventually cancel out the Bavarians’ dominance in the second half by pressing deep into their opponents’ territory.
Pep Guardiola’s men had no turn over after an hour of contentious play, except for Alonso’s red card for two similar fouls, the latter of which involved tangling with Taison who was on the break away.
Having to play the rest 25 minutes against ten-man Bayern offered an array of hope for the Pitmen but with fatigue already creeping in there was not just much to be done aside closing it out on equal footing and looking forward to starting from square one in three weeks.