FC Bayern beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-0 on Sunday evening, securing a near-unassailable 13-point lead over RB Leipzig at the top of the Bundesliga table. For a long time it seemed Lady Luck was smiling in the Foals' direction, but after the hour mark Thomas Müller scored the only goal in a tight but utterly merited victory.
Müller made his 250th Bundesliga appearance, crowning his milestone in style with his second league goal this season. He scored his first against Wolfsburg; apart from that he seemed strangely out of luck in front of goal, especially in the Bundesliga, but excelled with plenty of assists, both brilliant and acrobatic or incredibly unselfish like against Hamburg. On Sunday he proved his outstanding instinct for space and opportunity again, ghosting past Borussia's rearguard to get hold of a fine Thiago pass and slot home.
Offside flag, woodwork, Sommer
The German record champions started with Neuer between the sticks and Philipp Lahm, Javi Martínez, Mats Hummels and David Alaba in a back four. Xabi Alonso and Thiago anchored a midfield featuring Müller in the playmaking role, flanked by Franck Ribéry and Robben, with hitman Robert Lewandowski up front.
Carlo Ancelotti made two changes to the team that saw off Frankfurt last weekend. Alonso took over from Arturo Vidal, who served a one-match ban, with Ribéry replacing the injured Douglas Costa. Ribéry and Alonso gave way to Kingsley Coman and Joshua Kimmich with a quarter-hour to go before Renato Sanches came on for Robben.
The 54,104 capacity crowd at Borussia Park saw the Bavarians dominate proceedings, and not a full minute had been played when Robben tested netminder Sommer. The hosts threatened on the break, and Tony Jantschke almost capitalised on a mix-up in the Bayern box, but Javi Martínez deflected his effort over the crossbar.
Bayern created a couple of presentable chances, but the excellent Sommer denied Lewandowski midway through an entertaining first half, and at times it seemed Munich's attacking unit had a running battle with the linesman's offside flag. It was increasingly one-way traffic as the home side failed to switch play fast enough. The biggest chance came shortly before the interval, when Robben cut inside but saw his fine curler crash off the post, with Sommer saving Lewandowski's rebound.
Thomas celebrates in style
The pattern was similar after the restart, but Borussia's counterattacks proved dangerous again, with Neuer called into a crucial intervention to keep Bayern from falling behind, beating a galloping Oscar Wendt to the ball well outside the box. Raffael's belter from 25 yards went wide on the hour, and then Müller's golden moment came. Thiago chipped a brilliant pass into the box, Müller twisting and tapping in to hand his side the lead.
Sommer denied Ribéry following a slick combination featuring the Frenchman and fellow wing wizard Robben before Thiago skied a 25-yarder. The Foals were increasingly looking for an equaliser now, with sub Eden Hazard testing Neuer and Martínez blocking a Drmic effort, but Bayern survived a quarter-hour of Gladbach pressure before match official Tobias Stieler blew for full time.
The result means Bayern have 62 points from 25 matches, 13 clear of RB Leipzig who fell to Bremen on Saturday. A large part of the Bayern squad will be away on national team duty during the international break. The Reds are back in action on 1 April, when they entertain Augsburg in the Bundesliga, and they will surely be buoyed by their more-than-comfortable cushion at the top.
Live match report for fcbayern.com by Greg Salmen
Borussia Mönchengladbach - FC Bayern 0-1 (H-T: 0-0)
Sommer - Elvedi, Christensen, Vestergaard, Wendt - Herrmann (Hazard 65), Jantschke (Drmic 73), Strobl, Hofmann - Hahn (Bénes 81), Raffael
Sippel, Schulz, Kolo, Korb
Neuer - Lahm, Martínez, Hummels, Alaba - Alonso (Kimmich 77), Thiago - Robben (Sanches 85), Müller, Ribéry (Coman 72)- Lewandowski
Ulreich, Rafinha, Boateng, Bernat
Tobias Stieler (Hamburg)
0-1 Müller (63)
- / Alonso, Martínez