- 79' Thomas Müller
- 79' Thomas Müller
VfB Stuttgart held up the Bavarian steamroller for almost 80 minutes on Saturday, but the patient league leaders struck to deadly effect when their chance came, sub Thomas Müller scoring the match-winner. Bayern then had reason to thank Sven Ulreich for saving an injury-time penalty.
Bayern started with Ulreich in goal and Joshua Kimmich, Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels and Rafinha in a back four. Javi Martínez, Corentin Tolisso and Arturo Vidal featured in midfield, with James and Kingsley Coman starting out wide, looking to serve hitman Robert Lewandowski.
Jupp Heynckes shuffled his deck, making six changes to the XI that beat Köln on Wednesday. Ulreich, Kimmich, Hummels, Martínez, Coman and James took over from Tom Starke, David Alaba, Niklas Süle, Sebastian Rudy, Müller and Franck Ribéry.
Entertaining but goalless first half
The 58,900 capacity crowd at the Mercedes Benz Arena saw a high-octane encounter with chances at either end. Barely 60 seconds had been played when Kimmich gained possession near Stuttgart's box, Lewandowski hitting the side-netting from 18 yards. But the Bavarians struggled against the home side's early pressing, Chadrac Akolo skying a shot from distance before drawing a fine save from Ulreich.
Lewandowski called netminder Ron-Robert Zieler into action after 20 minutes before Hummels saw a header go over the bar, Stuttgart's Berkay Özcan miscuing a finish. Bayern slowly but surely asserted their dominance, Zieler shining with a fine save from Tolisso. Shortly before half-time Stuttgart were forced to fall back on Lady Luck. Vidal, James and Hummels all tried to capitalise on a mix-up in the box, but the ball refused to go in, Zieler eventually denying Hummels' effort.
Müller nets, Ulreich saves
Lewandowski was upended near the Swabians' box early after the restart, James curling the resulting free-kick over the bar. Coman soon charged down the left but Zieler proved equal to his curled finish. Heynckes played his first ace after the hour mark, Müller taking over from Tolisso. Boateng unleashed a rocket from distance but Zieler kept the scores level, before Süle came on for Hummels, who struggled with a problem sustained early in the contest.
Heynckes will have felt vindicated in his decision when Coman charged down the left and set up Müller, who finally overcame the outstanding Zieler, firing into the near corner of the net. Alaba replaced Coman as Stuttgart sought to level the scores. A Takuma Asano effort was deflected over the bar before Bayern staged a counter, Zieler saving from James and denying Lewandowski's rebound. The day almost turned sour when Stuttgart were awarded a penalty in injury time, but Ulreich retained the lead and three points with a strong save against Akolo.
The result means Bayern have 41 points from 17 Bundesliga matches, 11 clear of Schalke, who were held to a draw by Frankfurt. The Reds are back in action on Wednesday evening, when they entertain Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Cup Round of 16 in the last match of the year.
Live match report for fcbayern.com by Greg Salmen
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Zieler - Pavard, Badstuber, Baumgartl - Beck (Brekalo 82), Gentner, Ascacibar, Aogo (Asano 82) - Akolo, Terodde (Kaminski 47), Özcan
Grgic, Sessa, Insúa, Grahl, Russ, Gacinovic, Hrgota
Ulreich - Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels (Süle 68), Rafinha - Martínez - Tolisso (Müller 65), Vidal - James, Lewandowski, Coman (Alaba 84)
Starke, Ribéry, Bernat, Rudy
Patrick Ittrich (Hamburg)
0-1 Müller (79)
Aogo, Beck / Boateng, Rafinha
Ulreich saves penalty from Akolo (90+4)