Bayern moved four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga and made it seven wins in seven under Jupp Heynckes with an ultimately merited 3-1 victory away to Borussia Dortmund in an often thrilling and always enthralling installment of Der Klassiker on Saturday night.
The 81,360 full house at Signal Iduna Park saw captain for the night Arjen Robben become Bayern's record non-German goalscorer with the 17th-minute opener, the Dutchman’s 93rd Bundesliga goal for the club. Ex-BVB striker Robert Lewandowski doubled the lead before half-time and David Alaba effectively wrapped up the points midway through the second half, Marc Bartra’s late strike for the home side proving nothing more than a consolation.
The big win means the Bavarians extend their lead at the top of the Bundesliga table and go into the international break on 26 points, four clear of Leipzig in second and six ahead of Dortmund and Schalke in third and fourth.
Four changes for Jupp
Bayern boss Heynkes made four changes to the team that won 2-1 at Celtic Park in midweek. Despite suffering with a stomach problem, Joshua Kimmich joined up with the squad in Dortmund and was passed fit to play. Lewandowski and Mats Hummels returned against their former club, with Thiago also restored to the line-up. Rafinha, Corentin Tolisso, Jerome Boateng and Arturo Vidal dropped to the bench.
It meant the league leaders began with Sven Ulreich in goal, Kimmich, Niklas Süle, Hummels and David Alaba in a back four, Thiago, Javi Martinez and James Rodriguez in central midfield, and Kingsley Coman, Lewandowski and Robben up front.
Dortmund boss Peter Bosz sprang a minor surprise by fielding ex-Barca man Bartra at full-back, with Germany international Julian Weigl in the holding role behind a dangerous attacking trio of Andrej Yarmolenko, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and US starlet Christian Pulisic.
After referee Tobias Stieler whistled play underway in the Ruhr Valley the sides felt each other out for the first ten minutes before Aubameyang sprang the offside trap and bore down on the Bayern goal, only for Süle to produce a magnificent saving tackle. The men in red heeded the warning and forged upfield, a spell of intense pressure culminating with James teeing up Robben to open the scoring on 17 minutes with a trademark left-foot finish.
The visitors had the game under control for a spell and always looked dangerous attacking at speed through Coman and James, but BVB keeper Roman Bürki twice reacted sharply to deny Lewandowski.
The black and yellows clawed their way back into it and chances fell at both ends in a breathless spell around the half-hour, but Ulreich brilliantly saved from Yarmolenko, Bürki pushed Lewy’s next effort over the bar, Shinji Kagawa’s shot brushed the foot of the post, and Lewandowski was crowded out after a superbly-timed run to remain onside.
But the second goal was not long in coming, Lewandowski finally netting in the 37th minute with a backheel from Kimmich’s cross that deflected off Weigl on its way past Bürki. The last chance of a lively half fell to Yarmolenko but the Ukrainian’s toe-poke was blocked and FCB went in at the break with a comfortable two-goal lead.
David settles it
The second half opened with a bang as Bürki somehow kept out Lewandowski’s point-blank header from Robben’s inviting cross, before Alaba scrambled away Yarmolenko’s goalbound effort after the pacy Pulisic’s darting run.
The visitors were content to contain Bosz’s men for a time but always looked dangerous on the break, and although Lewandowski dragged a shot wide with only Bürki to beat, Alaba went one better in the 67th minute with his side’s third, a cross-cum-shot evading friend and foe alike and creeping into the net at the far post to effectively put the game to bed.
The Austrian apparently injured himself in the act of scoring and gave way to Rafinha after 73 minutes, with Sebastian Rudy coming on for Martinez and Vidal replacing James for the closing stages. Ulreich made another fine save to prevent Aubameyang pulling one back but the keeper was powerless to prevent Bartra curling in a not-undeserved consolation for the black and yellows with a minute left to play, and there was another scare when Aubameyang came up just short at the back stick, before referee Stieler blew for time on an ultimately deserved FCB victory.
Chris Hamley reporting from Signal Iduna Park for fcbayern.com
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Bürki - Bartra, Sokratis (Toljan 42), Toprak, Schmelzer - Weigl – Kagawa (Götze 68), Castro – Yarmolenko (Sancho 80), Pulisic – Aubameyang
Weidenfeller, Guerreiro, Sahin, Schürrle
Ulreich - Kimmich, Süle, Hummels, Alaba (Rafinha 73) – Martinez (Rudy 81), Thiago, James (Vidal 84) - Robben, Lewandowski, Coman
Starke, Boateng, Tolisso, Wriedt
Tobias Stieler (Hamburg)
0-1 Robben (17), 0-2 Lewandowski (37), 0-3 Alaba (67), 1-3 Bartra (88)
Schmelzer, Toprak / Alaba, Martinez