BACK IN HIS PRIME
Ribery stars on comeback for Bayern in German Cup
FRANCK Ribery starred on his return from a thigh injury to help Bayern Munich reach the German Cup semi-finals with a comfortable 3-0 win over Schalke on Wednesday.
Bayern could next face Borussia Dortmund after being drawn against the winners of the postponed quarter-final involving third-tier Sportfreunde Lotte.
Dortmund’s game at Lotte was called off on Tuesday due to heavy snowfall and a waterlogged pitch. A new date for the game has yet to be announced, while the semi-finals will be played April 25-26.
Also on Wednesday, Borussia Moenchengladbach defeated Hamburg 2-1 away to line up a semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt, 1-0 winners over Arminia Bielefeld on Tuesday.
Ribery made an immediate impact in Munich, setting up Robert Lewandowski to open the scoring with a chip over goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann in the third minute.
The French winger was involved again for Bayern’s second, sending through Lewandowski, who drew Faehrmann away from goal and then crossed for Thiago Alcantara to head into the unguarded net in the 16th minute.
It got worse for the visitors when Ribery pulled the ball back for Lewandowski to shoot his second from a central position inside half an hour. It took Lewandowski’s tally across all competitions to 30 so far for the season.
The 33-year-old Ribery hadn’t played since the end of January after picking up the injury in training, and was taken off for Kingsley Coman in the 67th minute.
Seemingly content with their comfortable lead, Bayern kept Schalke at bay for the second half without exerting the effort that led to the goals in the first.
The visitors’ miserable evening was completed when Holger Badstuber was sent off late in the game with his second yellow card on his second return to Munich. Former teammate Arjen Robben asked the referee to reconsider but to no avail.
Badstuber, who joined Schalke on loan from Bayern in the winter transfer period, was celebrated by the home fans as he left the pitch.
Earlier, two penalties were enough for Moenchengladbach in the other quarter-final.
The recently prolific Lars Stindl broke the deadlock from the spot minutes after the restart, awarded when Mergim Mavraj brought Patrick Herrmann down.
It was Stindl’s eighth goal in six games across all competitions.
Raffael made it 2-0 with another minutes later, this time after Matthias Ostrzolek fouled Jonas Hofmann.
American forward Bobby Wood grabbed Hamburg’s consolation goal with a fine finish inside the far corner in injury time.
EPA PIC Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribery (centre) congratulates Robert Lewandowski after scoring against Schalke in the German Cup quarter-final on Wednesday. Bayern won 3-0.