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Bayern 2 SC Freiburg 0

Irresistible Reds stretch lead and unbeaten run

Bayern came another step closer to posting the best-ever first half of a season in Bundesliga history with an easy victory over SC Freiburg by a 2-0 scoreline that amply flattered the outclassed visitors in Tuesday’s final home fixture of 2014. The win in Pep Guardiola’s 50th top flight match at the FCB helm also saw his troops extend their scorching unbeaten streak to 20 league games.

The 71,000 capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena saw the home team rain shots on the visitors’ goal in a dominant first-half display, but 41 minutes had been played before Arjen Robben stooped to head home a long overdue opener. Thomas Müller doubled the lead three minutes after the restart on a good night for the league leaders, with the only fly in the ointment being the fact FCB had to make three injury-enforced substitutions in the course of the contest.

Win number 13 from 16 league fixtures takes FCB up to 42 points, a yawning 12 clear of second-placed Wolfsburg at least until the Wolves’ Wednesday night trip to struggling Dortmund. The Reds are in action for the last time this calendar year on Friday when they visit mid-table Mainz in the final fixture of the first half of the campaign.

Thomas and Mario from the start

Guardiola made three changes to the team that posted an ultimately comfortable 4-0 victory in the Bavarian derby away to FC Augsburg at the weekend, with Dante, Müller and Mario Götze in for rested trio Jerome Boateng, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sebastian Rode. Xabi Alonso was sufficiently recovered from a cold to play, while number two keeper Pepe Reina took a seat on the bench after nearly three months out with injury.

The home team started with the day’s captain Manuel Neuer in goal, Rafinha, Dante, Mehdi Benatia and Juan Bernat in defence, Xabi Alonso in central midfield, and Franck Ribery, Robben, Götze, Müller and Robert Lewandowski in the forward line.

Arjen’s opener

The visitors’ plan was immediately clear once referee Dr Jochen Drees whistled play underway on a mild and dry December evening in the Bavarian capital as Freiburg doggedly stuck to a 5-4-1 formation in the first 45 minutes. Alonso and Co set to the task of pounding away at the massed defence from the off and there were frequent chances, mostly initiated by on-fire wide men Robben and Ribery.

However, Freiburg were in determined mood and visiting keeper Roman Bürki was well on his game with two excellent saves from Götze, a calm take from Alonso’s thunderbolt, a good block from Ribery and the best stop of the lot from a Robben curler. The Reds’ finishing was a shade wayward too as Lewandowski and Müller both directed free headers over the bar, Müller’s flowing spin on a sixpence and shot went unrewarded, Robben volleyed agonisingly wide, Ribery’s effort flew across the face of Bürki’s six-yard box, and Müller’s cross-shot came back off the far upright.

There was a setback for Munich on 38 minutes too when Benatia pulled up with a thigh problem and signalled he could no longer continue, his place going to Boateng. But the breakthrough came just three minutes later when Ribery nodded Alonso’s chip back into the danger zone and Robben bent at the waist to open the scoring with his head.

One-sided second half

Lewandowski had received touchline treatment after a heavy first-half challenge and failed to appear after the break, his place going to Schweinsteiger. FCB needed only three further minutes to double the lead, Müller thrusting his head in where it hurts to force the rebound over the line after the unlucky Bernat skilfully took down a Robben chip but saw his looper come back off the crossbar.

FCB took a brief breather and lost a third player to injury too, Xherdan Shaqiri replacing the hobbling Alonso. But the Reds were soon on the attack again, Müller heading just wide, and Bürki making a fine double save from Dante before Shaq headed over the target. SCF’s Swiss goalie further enhanced his reputation with a superb one-handed tip-over from Bernat’s belter, before the Spanish starlet’s luck deserted him yet again when his half-volley cannoned back off the post.

The pace dropped now and with 15 minutes left Admir Mehmedi delivered the visitors’ first actual shot at goal, although Neuer was not obliged to intervene. Shaqiri fired over the bar and Bürki again saved from Bernat as the game meandered towards its conclusion and the pre-Christmas laser show treat for the happy home fans.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley