Created on 31-01-2016 at 19:18 PM by Chris Hamley
In Sunday evening’s milestone 500th match at the Allianz Arena, Bayern maintained their perfect home record in the 2015/16 Bundesliga campaign courtesy of Robert Lewandowski’s brace in a comfortable 2-0 win over second-from-bottom TSG Hoffenheim, a tenth victory in ten home games that sees Pep Guardiola’s team restore their eight-point lead at the top of the standings.
The 75,000 full house at the magnificent Arena saw the home side control the game from the off and take a 32nd-minute lead through Lewandowski. The Polish super-striker doubled his and his team’s tally just after the hour as the men from Munich closed out the win.
A 17th win in 19 matches sees the Reds tighten their grip on first place in the table with 52 points, still eight clear of Borussia Dortmund and a yawning 18 ahead of third-placed Hertha. The Bavarians are back in action next Saturday evening in the trip to long-standing rivals Bayer Leverkusen.
Starts for Joshua and Arjen
Bayern coach Guardiola made two changes to the team that beat Hamburg 2-1 in last week’s official restart fixture. Joshua Kimmich and Arjen Robben took over from long-term absentee Jerome Boateng and Thiago, who started on the bench alongside the likes of Arturo Vidal and Juan Bernat, the Spaniard returning to the matchday squad from a long lay-off.
It meant the home team began with Manual Neuer in goal, Holger Badstuber, David Alaba and captain Philipp Lahm in a nominal back three, Xabi Alonso and Kimmich in holding roles, Kingsley Coman, Thomas Müller, Douglas Costa and Robben in attack, and Robert Lewandowski at centre-forward.
After referee Dr Jochen Drees whistled play underway on a chilly evening in Munich, the home team set off with great purpose and Robben landed a trademark curler on the roof of the visitors’ net with the game seven minutes old. The men in red mounted waves of attacks down the right and TSG keeper Oliver Baumann made good saves to deny Müller on 18 minutes and the twisting Lewandowski three minutes later.
Robben was proving a real handful and fired just too high after a fine darting run into the box midway through the half, but it took until the 32nd minute for FCB to take the lead: Coman initially sparked panic in the Hoffenheim box, with Costa ultimately providing the reverse pass from the left flank for Lewandowski to slide home from close range.
Guardiola’s team eased back a shade now and Neuer was called into action for the first time on 40 minutes when Andrej Kramaric loosed off a low drive, but the danger soon passed and the leaders took their one-goal lead with them into the break.
Reds close out the win
The champions came out for the second half in ebullient mood and Baumann made three excellent saves in quick succession, tipping Alonso’s screamer over the bar, dropping onto Lewandowski’s header at the second attempt, and palming Müller’s cross-cum-shot away from the danger zone. Lewandowski then headed wide at the back stick when scoring looked a certainty, but there was a let-off for Munich on 55 minutes when Kramaric blasted across the face of goal with only Neuer to beat.
The Bavarians were soon back on the attack and Lewandowski steered a Müller cross just inches wide, before Eduardo Vargas headed over the home crossbar from a corner. Guardiola’s men doubled their lead after 64 minutes when Lahm temporarily assumed the playmaking duties and slipped a neat shot pass through the Lewandowski, the Pole completing his brace with aplomb.
It was all Bayern now and sub Vidal, on for Müller, rattled the woodwork with a vicious skidding drive, before Alaba finished off a mazy run with a shot just wide of the target. Robben also came close at the end, before the crowd rose to acclaim Bernat’s long-awaited return to competitive action in the last minute.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley