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Zurich lose first leg in Champions League playoff

FC Zurich’s hopes of reaching the group stage of the Champions League took a hit on Wednesday when they were beaten 2-0 by Bayern Munich.

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben scored in Munich to put the four-time European champions within sight of the group stage of European football’s most prestigious and lucrative tournament.

With May’s Champions League final set to be held in Munich and an estimated €20 million (SFr23 million) to be gained just by reaching the tournament proper, Bayern had plenty of incentive to beat the runners-up in the Swiss league.

But the powerhouse failed to impress for long spells in front of 66,000 sometimes jeering fans at the Allianz-Arena and led solely through Schweinsteiger’s eighth-minute goal for much of the match.

Schweinsteiger headed in unmarked before France winger Franck Ribéry hit the post with a free kick in the second half as Bayern missed a host of chances.

Robben finally got the goal the home side’s dominance deserved, taking a pass from Gomez with one touch and curling a shot past Johnny Leoni with his next in the 72nd minute.

The return leg will take place in Zurich on Tuesday, when Bayern will have to be careful: Zurich have Champions League experience, having made the group stage for the only time in 2009. The Swiss team failed to progress but won 1-0 at AC Milan and held the Italian giant to a 1-1 draw in the return. and agencies


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