Italian striker Luca Toni inspired Bayern Munich to a 6-0 rout of Greek side Aris to book their berth in the Uefa Cup knockout round on Wednesday as English side Bolton advanced without kicking a ball.
Two goals in either half from Toni maintained Bayern’s decade-long unbeaten Uefa home record and defenders Christian Lell and Philipp Lahm completed the rout as the under-pressure Germans finished comfortably on top of Group F.
Both Toni’s first-half goals, on 25 and 38 minutes, came from Franck Ribery’s creativity in midfield and after the break the French striker again combined with the Italian for his hat-trick on 64 minutes.
Lahm set up Toni’s fourth just two minutes later before Lell bagged Bayern’s fifth and then Lahm completed the rout on 81 minutes.
”I am glad that we could reward our fans with an end-of-year goal feast,” said Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.
”The last few weeks have been difficult, there has been a lot of speculation [about his future] but that’s part of my job.
”We played well and dominated the opposition. Now we can prepare the second half of the season calmly which is the most important.”
Bolton’s hopes of qualification were out of their hands and the Premier league side, who had been leading the group after playing all their matches, could have been eliminated if results did not go their way.
But Sporting Braga’s 2-0 win over Red Star Belgrade thanks to goals from Roland Linz (11) and Wenderson Wender (66) ensured the Portuguese qualified at the expense of Aris with Bolton claiming the third qualifying spot.
Bayern finished with eight points from four games with Braga and Bolton on six each.
Bolton manager Gary Megson warned his side against premature celebrations as they join the British contingent already qualified for the last 32 — Tottenham, Everton and Rangers.
”We are pleased to go through to the knock-out phase of the Uefa Cup,” said Megson. ”It’s a testament to the hard work of the players and we now look forward to the draw on Friday.
”However it’s important that we don’t get carried away with our progression as we have some very important Barclays Premier League fixtures coming up over the festive period — we cannot lose focus of that.”
In Group G, Spanish side Getafe finished top ahead of Tottenham after their 2-1 win over Belgian outfit Anderlecht, who nevertheless took the third qualifying spot after Hapoel Tel Aviv fell 3-1 at home against already-elimiated Aalborg of Denmark.
Panionios Athens threw away their chance to qualify from Group H as they let a two-goal lead slip to fall 3-2 at already-qualified Bordeaux.
The Greek club’s defeat allowed Turkish side Galatasaray, the 2000 champions, to grab the third berth despite a goalless draw at home to tailenders Austria Vienna.
Bordeaux had already qualified as group leaders ahead of Swedish club Helsingborgs and the French lined out with a second string team.
Rafik Djebbour put Panionios ahead from the penalty spot after six minutes and then set up Grigoris Makos for their second after 20 minutes.
But a Fernando Cavenaghi double after 40 and 75 minutes brought the French level and Wilfried Moimbe netting the winner three minutes from time.
In Group E, where there was nothing to play for but pride, already-qualified Bayer Leverkusen finished top after a 5-0 rout at Swiss side FC Zurich, who also advance.
Previous leaders Spartak Moscow qualified second despite falling 2-1 at Toulouse as the French achieved their first win thanks to a double from Tunisian international Francileudo Santos. – AFP