Bayern Munich beats Villarreal, 2-0

Bayern Munich scored once in each half to beat Villarreal 2-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday as the German powerhouse began its pursuit of a fifth European championship with a victory.

Winger Franck Ribery set up Toni Kroos to put Bayern ahead early, and substitute Rafinha sealed the win with an excellent individual effort.

Bayern’s margin of victory could have been larger as substitute Nils Petersen came close twice in the second half and Kroos hit the woodwork.

”I am happy because the team demonstrated that it can compete in Europe,” said Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, who led Real Madrid to the Champions League title in 1997-98. ”This is a tough ground to visit and winning here gives us confidence for the games to come.”

Bayern’s first victory in Spain since 2001 gave it seven straight in all competitions.

The two teams share arguably the competition’s toughest group with Manchester City and Napoli, which drew 1-1 in their opener.

Bayern was the better team overall and showed little signs of missing Netherlands winger Arjen Robben, who was out with back and groin problems.

Early on, Villarreal continued to be exposed by the same defensive lapses that have contributed to its winless start to the young Spanish league season.

Ribery had little trouble squirming through the left side of the area before crossing back for the unmarked Kroos to sharply stab the ball into the far right corner of the net in the seventh minute.

”The first goal, seven minutes, in, conditioned the game physically, tactically and psychologically,” said coach Juan Carlos Garrido, whose Villarreal had gone undefeated in its previous nine games in European competition at El Madrigal stadium.

Germany midfielder Thomas Muller headed over the top in the 14th as Bayern threatened to extend its lead against its stunned hosts.

Villarreal’s strike duo of Giuseppe Rossi and Nilmar tried to take advantage of their speed against the heavy-footed Bayern backline. Rossi latched on to Bruno Soriano’s long pass to break behind the defense in Villarreal’s best chance of the game in the 22nd, but goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was well positioned to block the Italy striker’s rising shot.

Rafinha replaced a limping Daniel Van Buyten moments later and the Brazilian’s quickness helped Bayern keep up with Villarreal’s attackers.

Bayern dominated the final stretch of the first half as Ribery continued to cause problems for the Spaniards in defense.

It was Villarreal, however, that came close in the 45th when Mario Gaspar pounced on a loose ball in the area only for Neuer to smother his low shot.

”We showed that we play a complete game,” Heynckes said. ”The first half was more even but we scored, and in the second we were superior and finished off the game.”

Bayern’s new signing Nils Petersen came on for Mario Gomez at halftime and within seconds drew a save from goalkeeper Diego Lopez.

Garrido tried to spark his team by sending on Cani for Marcos Senna and having his team pressure up the pitch.

But the Bavarians only tightened their hold on the match.

”We had the ball more in the second half, but we lacked the ability to reach their area and threaten to score,” Cani said. ”We didn’t expect to lose at home, but there are still many games to go in the group stage.”

Petersen again tested Lopez before Kroos hit the post in the 60th when Muller crossed for the 21-year-old to try and push in with a diving strike.

Rafinha dribbled between the legs of Soriano and beat Lopez with a low blast to decide the contest for good in the 76th.

This year’s final will be played at Bayern’s home stadium next May.