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Hamburg 1 Bayern 4

Reds seal morale-boosting win in Hamburg

Bayern produced exactly the right reaction to their midweek Champions League exit with a deserved and ultimately convincing win away to struggling Hamburg on Saturday. Pep Guardiola’s men needed a while to settle but turned in an increasingly vibrant display and were rewarded with the match-winning goals in a racy and up-tempo second half.

The 57,000 full house at the Imtech Arena saw the evenly-matched sides separated at the break only by Mario Götze’s strike just after the half-hour, but the champions steadily imposed their authority in the second period and sealed a comfortable win thanks to goals from Thomas Müller, Götze again and sub Claudio Pizarro, with Hakan Calhanoglu pulling one back for the home team. The only slight fly in the ointment from a Munich perspective was Jerome Boateng’s red card five minutes from time, but otherwise there were plenty of positives from the afternoon.

A 28th win from 33 matches this term takes FCB onto 87 points, 19 clear of second-placed Dortmund. The Bavarians complete their league programme next weekend at home to southern rivals VfB Stuttgart.

Two new faces for FCB

Guardiola made two changes to the team beaten by Real in midweek, bringing in Javi Martinez and Götze for Mario Mandzukic and the injured Franck Ribery (back). Manuel Neuer, fresh from extending his stay with FCB until 2019, made his 250th Bundesliga appearance - and with only 211 goals conceded in his games for Schalke and Bayern, was poised to smash Oliver Reck’s record of 266 goals against in 250 top-flight outings.

The visitors started with Neuer in goal, David Alaba, ex-Hamburg man Boateng, Dante and captain Philipp Lahm in defence, Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger in central midfield, Müller and Arjen Robben out wide, and Toni Kroos in behind false nine Götze.

HSV boss Mirko Slomka brought in three new faces compared to the team that lost 3-1 to Augsburg, restoring Petr Jirecek, Robert Tesche and club captain Rafael van der Vaart in place of injured ex-FCB defender Marcell Jansen, the suspended Tolgay Arslan, and reserve striker Mattia Maggio.

Mario on target

After referee Marco Fritz whistled play underway, Guardiola’s men took charge early on and created the first couple of chances, with Robben loosing off a seventh-minute range-finder and Müller heading home two minutes later only for the goal to be ruled out for offside earlier in the move. But the home team clawed their way into the game and Croatia international Ivo Ilicevic smacked a good chance wide, before Hakan Calhanoglu followed suit on the quarter-hour.

The sides now cancelled each other out for a long spell, but the champions were always probing for openings and Götze duly broke the deadlock on 32 minutes, skilfully exchanging passes with Robben in the box and coolly slipping the ball past keeper Rene Adler despite the close proximity of three HSV defenders.

The goal took the wind out of the home team’s sails and Munich pushed on ominously with Schweinsteiger and Müller both coming close, although Neuer was forced into a fine save from Van der Vaart’s shot on the turn and Ilicevic missed the target as the strugglers showed a few signs of life before half-time.

Second-half goals seal it

The northerners were still eager in the early exchanges after the restart but FCB had upped their composure on the ball a notch and hovered dangerously around the Hamburg box, Adler diving bravely at Robben’s feet and both Schweinsteiger and Alaba firing just off target. The second goal arrived after 55 minutes when the HSV defence totally failed to pick up Götze at a corner, the former BVB man comfortably controlling Robben’s corner and firing home from 12 yards, with the ball flicking off Müller’s shin on its way to goal.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg replaced Kroos in the 67th minute, before FCB wrapped it up once and for all two minutes later, Götze completing his brace with a thumping close-range volley after Adler could only block Robben’s initial effort and Müller headed the rebound into his fellow Germany international’s path.

It was by no means then end of the goalmouth action, as Calhanoglu pulled one back after 72 minutes with an unstoppable low drive from the left edge of the box, before Pizarro took over from Robben for the last 20 minutes. The Peruvian was immediately in the action and added to his impressive career scoring total with an overhead kick past Adler to chalk up his side’s fourth with 15 minutes still to play.

Lahm was denied a nailed-on penalty when Mr Fritz gave a corner despite a clear foul by Jiracek, and the captain came within an ace of adding his name to the scoresheet after a wonderful interchange with Müller. Tempers flared before the end as HSV sub Kerem Demirbay and Boateng squared off, the referee booking the home player and harshly brandishing a red card at the FCB centre-back. But it was only a minor blemish as the champions sealed a deserved and morale-boosting victory.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley