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VfL Wolfsburg 4 Bayern 1

Reds undone by Dost and De Bruyne

Bayern’s proud 21-game unbeaten run in the Bundesliga came to a sticky end in Friday night’s top-of-the-table restart clash as the off-colour Reds fell 4-1 away to second-placed Wolfsburg. Not much went right on a poor evening for the Bavarians against the disciplined and dangerous Wolves, as FCB’s goals against tally this term doubled from only four to eight in just one match.

The 30,000 capacity crowd at the VW Arena saw Pep Guardiola’s men fall behind to Bas Dost’s opener after just four minutes. The visitors controlled the play for long stretches after that but the home team were always dangerous on the break, and Dost doubled the advantage with a volley in time added on at the end of the first half. A breathtaking second period opened with Kevin de Bruyne and Juan Bernat trading goals, the Spaniard notching his first in the Bundesliga, but De Bruyne was in irresistible form and blasted home his side’s fourth after 73 minutes.

The result means Bayern’s lead at the top of the table now stands at a still-reassuring eight points over the Wolves with 18 matches played, as the Reds have 45 points to their closest pursuers’ 37. There is precious little time for Guardiola and Co to lament the dropped points as the Bavarians are in action again on Tuesday night in another big game at home to Schalke 04.

Alaba’s comeback

Guardiola sent out his troops in a nominal 4-3-3 formation for the first competitive match of 2015, with David Alaba celebrating his comeback from a three-month injury lay-off. The league leaders were without Rafinha (ankle), Ribery (torn muscle) and long-term absentees Philipp Lahm, Javi Martinez and Thiago, with youngsters Mitch Weiser and Gianluca Gaudino joining the likes of Mario Götze and Holger Badstuber on the bench.

The champions lined up with Manuel Neuer in goal, Sebastian Rode, Dante, Jerome Boateng and Juan Bernat in defence, Xabi Alonso, Alaba and captain Bastian Schweinsteiger in midfield, and Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller up front.

Wolves boss Dieter Hecking picked an attacking team, with Max Arnold and ex-FCB star Luiz Gustavo in central midfield behind danger men De Bruyne, Vierinha and Ivan Perisic. Former Bayern hero Ivica Olic was not in the line-up after returning to Hamburg earlier in the day as part of the deal set to bring André Schürrle from Chelsea to VfL.

Two-goal deficit at the break

Before referee Tobias Welz set the game in motion, the crowd rose for an emotional and moving minute’s applause in tribute to Junior Malanda, the Wolves’ promising young Belgian star who tragically lost his life in a car accident in early January.

Bayern were soon on the attack once play got underway and Robben’s first-minute shot was blocked, before Portugal international Vieirinha almost headed past his own keeper Diego Benaglio. But there was a shock for the Reds in the fourth minute when Dost stroked the opener past Neuer from a De Bruyne assist after a sweeping break initiated by Gustavo.

Guardiola’s men had easily the lion’s share of the ball after that but found clear-cut chances hard to come by. Benaglio comfortably dealt with Schweinsteiger’s direct free-kick but escaped with a life after flapping at Alonso’s 14th-minute corner. The home side remained dangerous on the break and De Bruyne flashed a centre across the face of Neuer’s goal before walloping a drive into the crowd.

Alaba tested Benaglio from long range, Bernat fired wide and Robben cleverly released Müller only for the VfL defence to block, but there was a lucky escape for the Reds on 41 minutes when Dost guided wide from Daniel Caligiuri’s centre with the goal gaping. Tempers rose and there was a spot of handbags leading to yellows for Arnold and Alonso, before disaster struck with the last kick of the half when Dost volleyed home unstoppably past Neuer after Lewandowski could only half clear a Ricardo Rodriguez free-kick.

All-action second half

Caligiuri placed the first chance after the restart just wide from a Perisic assist, prompting Guardiola to take off Rode and send on Weiser. Robben dragged his shot wide of the far stick but the Wolves exploited their counter-attacking strength again on 53 minutes when De Bruyne hared clear from inside his own half and slotted home the third.

Bayern refused to let their heads go down and replied immediately when Bernat fired home at the second attempt after Naldo’s botched clearance. It was end to end stuff now and Arnold scooped over the bar from close range, Robben was crowded out, Neuer saved Dost’s header and then Arnold’s low drive, and Gustavo aimed wide of the target.

Claudio Pizarro and Götze replaced Lewandowski and Müller for the last 20 minutes, with Benaglio brilliantly tipping a Robben shot over the bar, but De Bruyne again showed deadly skill on the break on 73 minutes, latching onto Arnold’s pass to lash home the Wolves’ fourth. The signs that it was not Bayern’s night came when Benaglio stunningly saved from Robben and Pizarro missed from mere yards as a fine run came to an end.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley