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Fortress Allianz Arena

Composed Reds see off high-flying Hertha

Bayern maintained their perfect home record in the 2015/16 Bundesliga campaign with a comfortable 2-0 win over fourth-placed Hertha Berlin on Saturday, an eighth victory in eight home games that sees Pep Guardiola’s team extend their lead at the top of the standings overnight.

The 75,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw the home side utterly dominate the match from the start, Thomas Müller and Kingsley Coman underlining the leaders’ superiority with goals before half-time. The men in red eased back a shade after the break but Hertha were never allowed even the hint of a toehold as the champions closed out a comfortable success.

A 13th win in 14 matches sees the Reds tighten their grip on first place in the table with 40 points, now 11 clear of Borussia Dortmund at least until the black-and-yellows’ home meeting with Stuttgart on Sunday. The Bavarians are back in action next Saturday afternoon in the mouth-watering trip to resurgent long-standing rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Starts for Mehdi, Javi and Xabi

Bayern coach Guardiola made three changes to the team that beat Olympiacos 4-0 in the midweek Champions League fixture, with Mehdi Benatia, Javi Martinez and Xabi Alonso taking over from Holger Badstuber, Douglas Costa and Arjen Robben. The two forwards have minor knocks and were excused duty as a precaution, with David Alaba also not in the squad due to a lack of match fitness after injury.

It meant the home team began with Manual Neuer in goal, Martinez, Jerome Boateng and Benatia in a back three, Rafinha and captain Philipp Lahm as wing backs, Alonso in the holding role, Arturo Vidal in central midfield, and Coman, Müller and Robert Lewandowski up front.

Two up at the break

After referee Dr Jochen Drees whistled play underway on a cold afternoon in Munich, the home team immediately seized the initiative against the defensive visitors. Only ten minutes had been played when Lewandowski struck the first clear-cut chance of the contest across visiting keeper Rune Jarstein but against the inside of the far post, where Coman was unable to force home the rebound.

Boateng, who in reality played in defensive midfield with only Martinez and  Benatia behind him, set up Lewandowski for a header that Jarstein did well to turn aside, and the keeper then safely gathered Vidal’s long-range effort. However, the Berlin shot-stopper was powerless to prevent Müller opening the scoring on 34 minutes with a stooping header at hte back stick after Benatia had applied a decisive flick to a Vidal corner.

The men in red kept up their pursuit of a second goal before the break but Jarstein twice performed heroics in the 40th minute, first somehow denying Vidal from point-blank range after Müller and Lewandowski combined, and then parrying the Polish striker’s next shot, Fabian Lustenberger hacking off the line from Benatia’s follow-up. But there was no stopping FCB and the leaders went in at the break 2-0 up after Coman’s 41st-minute second, a fine goal set up by Boateng’s cross and Martinez’ sweet volleyed lay-off.

Reds close out the win

In the second half the champions carried on where they had left off and created a clutch of chances in the first ten minutes after the restart, with Benatia heading narrowly over from a corner, Lewandowski somehow contriving to miss from Martinez’ delicate chip when it looked easier to score, and Müller skewing his shot wide in the 55th minute after Jarstein’s brave save at Lewandowski’s feet.

Sebastian Rode took over from Boateng in the 66th minute but Munich still kept coming, Vidal first seeing his shot well saved and then aiming just a shade too high from the edge of the box. The Bavarians eased back slightly now and Neuer made a first real save of the match from Genki Haraguchi with almost 80 minutes played.

The crowd rose to acclaim both Vidal and Badstuber when the latter replaced the former for the last five minutes, with Salomon Kalou firing just over Neuer’s bar at the end, although there was no point at which Bayern’s supremely comfortable victory looked in any kind of doubt.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley