PARIS: Bayern Munich and Villarreal avoided embarrassing exits from the Champions League as they cruised into the group stage draw after winning their respective play-off clashes. Bayern, making a rare appearance at this stage of the competition, beat FC Zurich 1-0 thanks to a Mario Gomez first-half strike to win 3-0 on aggregate. Meanwhile, Villarreal trounced Odense 3-0, to win 3-1 on aggregate. Villarreal’s highly-rated striker Giuseppe Rossi grabbed a double to ensure his team’s place in the group stages for the third time.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 25th, 2011.