Franck Ribery, Robert Lewandowski fail to launch as Bayern are held at home by Ajax
Below-par Bayern Munich stuttered to a fortunate 1-1 Champions League draw against Ajax Amsterdam, despite taking the lead through a Mats Hummels glancing header in the fourth minute. Bayern were pegged back by Noussair Mazraoui's deserved equaliser midway through the first half, and the record Dutch champions could easily have left Munich with the win but for Manuel Neuer's brilliance in the Bayern goal.
Bayern were fortunate to gain a point and remain joint-top of the group with the talented visitors from the Dutch capital.
Bayern slipped to their second straight home draw following their worst performance of the season, stretching their poor run to three games without a win.
Manager rating out of 10
5 -- Niko Kovac left it late hooking off the completely anonymous Franck Ribery, and after going three games without a win, cynics might suggest Carlo Ancelotti was fired for less just over a year ago. A mini-Kovac-crisis has reared its ugly head early in the Croat's reign.
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Manuel Neuer, 9 -- Produced fine reflex saves in each half to keep his side on level terms, saving the best of the lot for the final minute, when he deflected a goal-bound Lasse Schone free kick onto the bar with his fingertips to salvage a precious draw. He did give the ball away uncharacteristically early in the second half, but his mad dash back into his goal soon repaired the damage.
DF David Alaba, 6 -- A very average Alaba performance with little attacking jest, understandably perhaps as Bayern were cut apart at regular junctures by an adventurous Ajax side.
DF Jerome Boateng, 6 -- One of a number of Bayern players who gave the ball away too often as Bayern struggled to impose themselves in what is normally their home fortress.
DF Mats Hummels, 7 -- His fine header after only four minutes looked to have set Bayern on their way to a comfortable win, but Ajax had other ideas. Hummels' last-ditch tackle on the hour prevented a certain goal before he went off dazed in the melee after Neuer's brilliant last-gasp save.
DF Joshua Kimmich, 5 -- Decent going forward down the right flank as always but distinctly average when called upon to do the bread and butter defending.
MF Javi Martinez, 5 -- Flashed a drive wide on the half hour but booked for a rash challenge on the impressive Hakim Ziyech five minutes before half-time. Miles away from the normally calming influence in front of an overworked backline.
MF Thiago, 5 -- Drove narrowly wide on 66 minutes as Bayern pressed briefly for a winner, but overall the graceful Spaniard struggled to make an impact and wasn't his influential self in midfield.
MF Franck Ribery, 4 -- Some fleeting bright moments in the opening exchanges, but Bayern's longest-serving player faded appreciably as the game went on, and he was fortunate to stay on the pitch for as long as 74 minutes. Unsurprisingly, the 35-year-old never looked like ending his record of not scoring in the Champions League since March 2015
MF Arjen Robben, 6 -- Went close with a trademark cut-in and left-footed shot after only two minutes that was brilliantly stopped by Andre Onana in the Ajax goal. His exquisite cross soon fed Hummels, and he was at the heart of Bayern's positive intent in the opening half. Robben's resurgence faded, but it was still a surprise that he was the first Bayern player hooked off just after the hour -- and not veteran wing partner Ribery.
MF Thomas Muller, 5 -- Started his 101st Champions League outing full of running and bristling with positive energy. He should have done better on 18 minutes but could only fire a tame shot straight at the keeper Onana. After a bright start to the season under Kovac, Muller has regressed to his 2016-2017 form.
FW Robert Lewandowski, 5 -- Toiled industriously but never really threatened and a series of poor free kicks from good positions summed up his hapless evening.
MF James Rodriguez, 5 -- The ex-Real Madrid star replaced Robben just after the hour mark and had the chance to win the game on 78 minutes, but his weak shot was kept out by Onana from close range. He was still mulling over his miss when he fouled Nicolas Tagliafico immediately after and showed his frustration by kicking the ball away in a temper tantrum. James does not look a happy Colombian camper at the moment.
MF Serge Gnabry, 6 -- Replaced the ineffective Ribery with 16 minutes remaining and at least showed some attacking purpose in the final stages. The ex-Arsenal man also picked up a yellow card for a foul late on.
DF Niklas Sule, N/R -- Sule replaced Hummels for the final minutes as Bayern scrambled a fortunate draw.