DAVID SMITH - Thursday, January 22, 2009
Landon Donovan continued his tear through the Bayern Munich midseason friendly schedule, netting a pair of second half goals as they easily dispatched Mainz.
With only five days remaining until Jürgen Klinsmann's men make the trip to Stuttgart for their round of 16 game in the German Cup, Bayern's first-year coach chose once again to pair first-choice forwards Miroslav Klose and Luca Toni up front while saving Donovan to wreak havoc in the second half.
Klose wasted no time in finding target, connecting on a low cross from Hamit Altintop directly in front of the left of goal, firing his point blank blast past helpless Mainz keeper Christian Wetklo for the fourth minute lead.
The early goal represented the high point of the half for the reigning German champions, with the home team slowly taking hold of the game, giving the crowd of 16,000 reason to cheer. The Bavarians' defense held, however, and the teams went into the locker rooms to warm up with the visitors carrying a tight single-goal lead.
Both coaches opted to their benches after the half with a pair of substitutions for each team. It was Bayern's starting tandem of Toni and Sebastian Schweinsteiger which combined for Bayern's second goal after ten minutes had gone by, however, with Schweinsteiger muscling off Montenegrin defender Milorad Pekovic before quickly laying it off to the unmarked Toni just outside the left corner of the box.
Having all the time in the world, the Italian charged towards goal, cutting inside past one defender before coolly burying his shot just inside the far post.
Donovan entered the fray with 30 minutes to go, and didn't wait long to notch up his third goal of the midseason, linking up once again with surely his favorite Italian on the team, Massimo Oddo only ten minute after stepping onto the field.
Taking the ball in a forward position just on the left edge of the box, the defender hit in a picture-perfect cross to Donovan, who was waiting just on the right of goal and headed the ball over Wetklo to the far post for the three-goal lead.
With the wheels coming off for the home team, Schweinsteiger added another to Bayern's tally two minutes later. Taking a pass at the top edge of the penalty area, Donovan deftly flicked the ball to the onrushing former Bremen sellout Tim Borowski, who centered it for Schweinsteiger to easily tap into the left of Wetklo's goal.
Donovan nearly got his second on the night in the 83rd minute, connecting with a rebounded shot from Toni, however he was deemed to be in an offside position and the goal was disallowed.
He left no question in the 90th minute, however, taking advantage of a slight blunder by the appropriately named Wetklo to make it five on the night or Bayern.
Turkish international Altintop stormed his way into the left side of the area and quickly centered it to near the penalty spot where the sprinting Donovan connected for a rocket-fired shot that was too much for the bewildered keeper to handle. The bumbled shot found its way past the line giving Bayern's favorite newcomer his second for the night and fourth in the team's five midseason tests.
Donovan will hope to carry his momentum into the regular season and make his competitive debut for the Reds when Bayern travel to face Stuttgart on Tuesday before returning to league action three days later in Hamburg.