FC Bayern beat RB Leipzig 1-0 in last home match of the year on Wednesday evening. Sub Franck Ribéry made the difference in a contest between two evenly-matched sides to cut the gap to league leaders Borussia Dortmund to six points.
The German record champions started with Manuel Neuer in goal and Joshua Kimmich, Niklas Süle, Mats Hummels and David Alaba in a back four. Thiago and Leon Goretzka anchored a midfield featuring Serge Gnabry, Thomas Müller and Kingsley Coman, with Robert Lewandowski as lone striker.
Woodwork at either end
The 75,000 capacity crowd who braved wintery conditions at the Allianz Arena saw two evenly-matched sides contest an absorbing battle of wits, but there was little goalmouth action to warm the fans' hearts at first. Leipzig's Konrad Laimer took aim from 25 yards but Neuer saved comfortably. The game sprang to life after 20 minutes. A fine Thiago pass almost found Müller in the box, but the native Bavarian was unable to get hold of the ball.
Lewandowski soon ghosted past the rearguard and had only Peter Gulacsi to beat, but Leipzig's netminder tipped the ball onto the post. Gnabry hobbled off the pitch with a calf problem before the half-hour, Ribéry taking over. Dayot Upamecano's header from Kevin Kampl's cross crashed off the crossbar, and match official Marco Fritz blew for half-time.
Franck the hero
RB enjoyed a spell in command after the restart but created no real chances, Timo Werner firing over the bar. The German record champions upped the pressure around the hour mark, a Coman cross evading friend, foe and the goal alike. Renato Sanches replaced Coman, and the Portuguese soon missed a gilt-edged chance when he fired just wide.
Müller miscued following an Alaba cross before a deflected Süle effort from ten yards went over the bar, Gulacsi performing miracles to save a header by former RB man Kimmich. Just when it looked like Lady Luck might be smiling in the away side's direction, Sanches drew a save from Gulacsi, Ribéry getting hold of the ball, taking two defenders out of the game and slotting home. Bayern skillfully ran down the clock now, Javi Martínez coming on for Müller. Both sides found themselves decimated in injury time. Leipzig sub Stefan Ilsanker earning his marching orders for a heavy challenge against Thiago. Fritz sent off Sanches for a second bookable offence before blowing for full-time.
The result means Bayern have 33 points from 16 matches, lying third in the table, equal on points with Mönchengladbach and six points adrift of Dortmund, who fell to 2-1 Düsseldorf on Tuesday. Kovac' troops will be back in action in just three days, when they travel to face Eintracht Frankfurt in the last match of the year.
Live match report for fcbayern.com by Greg Salmen
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Neuer – Kimmich, Süle, Hummels, Alaba – Thiago, Goretzka – Gnabry (Ribéry 28), Müller (Martínez 90), Coman (Sanches 60) – Lewandowski
Ulreich – Wagner, Rafinha, Mai
Gulácsi – Klostermann, Konaté, Upamecano, Halstenberg – Laimer (Cunha 87), Kampl, Demme, Bruma (Ilsanker 81) – Poulsen (Augustin 88), Werner
Müller – Orban, Mukiele, Majetschak
Marco Fritz (Korb)
1-0 Ribéry (83)
- / Demme, Laimer