FC Bayern optimistic after best display of term

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The away faithful hailed their team with chants and a warm round of applause. FC Bayern narrowly fell 3-2 to league leaders Borussia Dortmund after 90 spectacular minutes in the Bundesliga top clash. Even if the gap to the Ruhr valley outfit has increased to seven points, the German record champions knew the fans were behind them after a strong display.

"We saw a fantastic match from both teams today," summarised Bayern coach Niko Kovac after the final whistle: "Unfortunately we lost even though it could perfectly well have ended in a draw," added Kovac. "It was a superb evening and a nice match for the neutral observer, a 3-3 draw would have been deserved. One team left the pitch as losers, we did. We're all sad and annoyed by that," said Leon Goretzka.

The heavyweight clash more than lived up to its billing. Pace, tactics, goals: the 81,360 capacity crowd at Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park witnessed the perhaps best game in the current campaign. Bayern dominated proceedings in the first half, with Dortmund in the driving seat after the restart. Bayern president Uli Hoeneß spoke of "an outstanding match from both sides" one day later.

Robert Lewandowski handed Bayern the lead twice, Dortmund captain Marco Reus cancelling out both goals. Sub Paco Alcacer put Dortmund ahead before Lewandowski had the ball in the back of the net in injury time, but his offside position meant Dortmund narrowly won the match.

Best display this season goes unrewarded

"If you take the lead twice and still lose the match you can't have done everything right," a self-critical Thomas Müller commented after the final whistle. There was "much to be said" for the team's mentality, but "we still can't feel satisfied. In detail we made one mistake too many," said Müller. Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic praised Bayern's "great character," but they "allowed counter-attacks you mustn't let happen against Dortmund."

"Dortmund counter-attacked on their home turf and created five or six highly dangerous situations, converting three of them into goals. We knew that's their strength, but unfortunately we let them do it," analysed captain Manuel Neuer. "Our performance wasn't bad but we lacked the cleverness to take the three points. That would have been absolutely possible." At the end of the day Bayern failed to reward themselves for their best display so far this term.

Kovac was "satisfied with our performance" despite the defeat, speaking of "our best match since Schalke, in terms of technique, fighting spirit and tactics." Bayern won 2-0 away to the Royal Blues at the end of September, winning their seventh competitive fixture on the bounce back then. "We have to build on it and turn in similar displays in the future," said Kovac, but admitted "we have a lot of work ahead of us."

The Bavarians denied an alleged early decision in the championship. "With 23 matchdays to go we won't give it away so easily," declared Salihamidzic. "I'm very optimistic for the next few weeks until Christmas," said Hoeneß, who promised: "We'll keep the championship exciting until the last matchday." Joshua Kimmich said: "It's seven points now - the hunt is on." After all, the Bayern faithful want to hail their team at the end of the season.

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