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Bayern 3 Eintracht Frankfurt 0

Injury-hit FCB seal fully merited win

A makeshift Bayern side impressively overcame the absence of eight regulars and moved a step closer to retaining the Bundesliga title with a workmanlike 3-0 Bundesliga success at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, a morale-boosting result ahead of the crunch European clash with Porto in midweek.

The 75,000 capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena saw Robert Lewandowski crack a superb opening goal on the quarter-hour, but although Pep Guardiola’s men comfortably controlled the play, they could not add to their tally before half-time. The Reds took a breather up to the hour mark but upped the tempo again after that, Lewandowski completing his brace on 66 minutes and Thomas Müller adding a brilliant third towards the end.

Win number 22 from 28 league games means the Reds are up to 70 points, 13 ahead of second-placed Wolfsburg at least until the Wolves’ evening trip to Hamburg. The Bavarians now travel to Portugal for the biggest game of the season so far, Wednesday’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Porto, before the league trip to Hoffenheim next Saturday afternoon.

Makeshift FCB line-up

An injury crisis is raging at Bayern just now, with Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry, Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Alaba, Medhi Benatia, Javi Martínez and Tom Starke all sidelined by injury, and in-form Jérôme Boateng excused duty as a precaution after the defender felt a muscle go tight.

It meant Guardiola’s squad for the Frankfurt encounter was restricted to just 14 men with three vacant seats on the subs’ bench. Gifted midfielder Thiago marked his 24th birthday with a first start since 29 March 2014, with Mitchell Weiser coming in as a wing-back and Pepe Reina deputising between the sticks for the rested Manuel Neuer.

The champions started with Reina in goal, Weiser, Rafinha, Dante and Juan Bernat in defence, Xabi Alonso, Philipp Lahm and Thiago in the centre, and Müller, Lewandowski and Mario Götze up front.

Robert’s stunning opener

After referee Markus Schmidt whistled play underway, the Reds used the first ten minutes to settle and acclimatise to their previously untried formation, but Thiago was soon probing and prompting from a free role in midfield and the pressure began to mount.

Bayern took the lead after 15 minutes in spectacular fashion when Lewandowski flipped Müller’s lay-off over his own shoulder, spun on a sixpence and walloped a right-foot volley across Frankfurt keeper Kevin Trapp and into the far top corner of the net. It was a superb finish by the Pole, and although TV replays indicated he was marginally offside at the moment Müller delivered the ball, the goal stood.

With the lead under their belts, FCB hit the gas and tested visiting captain Trapp from all angles, although the keeper did very well to deny Lewandowski and Müller twice apiece, with Alonso curling a free-kick just wide of the target, before Eintracht youth product Sonny Kittel drew a first – and very good – save from Reina with 40 minutes already on the clock.

There was one more controversial incident before the break when Müller appeared to have made it 2-0 from close range, but referee Schmidt consulted with his assistant and disallowed the strike for offside, although TV replays again showed the decision to be wrong as the final ball was a mis-kick by Frankfurt midfielder Makoto Hasebe.

Controlled second half

The first chance of the second half fell to veteran Paraguay hitman Nelson Valdez, but it was a rare foray by the visitors as the Reds focused on containing their opponents and looking for openings on the break. Götze’s firm drive after a great solo run cannoned off the post in the 62nd minute and Valdez headed over at the other end, but Lewandowski was on hand to double the score on 66 minutes, the Pole heading home the rebound after Hasebe had stunningly blocked Götze’s goalbound effort after a fluid move involving Müller and Lahm.

Ex-Frankfurt man Sebastian Rode took over from the exhausted Thiago for the last 20 minutes, before Lewandowski was cruelly denied a hat-trick when his low drive beat Trapp but struck the right-hand post. Gianluca Gaudino replaced Lahm in the 79th minute, but Müller stole the show three minutes later with an incredible finish from a seemingly impossible angle after the ball ran free when Weiser attempted to round Trapp. Holger Badstuber came on for Rafinha in the closing stages and Lewandowski toe-poked wide with only Trapp to beat as Guardiola’s men closed out a fully merited victory.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley