FC Bayern beat Werder Bremen 1-0 on Saturday afternoon. Chances were few and far between in the first half, Bayern upping the ante after half-time. They still struggled to overcome keeper Jiri Pavlenka even though Bremen were reduced to ten men before the hour mark, but Niklas Süle rewarded the Bavarians with a quarter-hour to go.
The Bavarians started with Sven Ulreich in goal and Joshua Kimmich, Süle, Jérôme Boateng and David Alaba at the back. Javi Martínez and Thiago anchored a midfield featuring Serge Gnabry, Thomas Müller and Kingsley Coman, with target man Robert Lewandowski up front. Leon Goretzka, Franck Ribéry and Renato Sanches took over from Martínez, Müller and Gnabry in the second half.
The 75,000 capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena saw a first half long on passion but short on chances, Bayern struggling against the compact and tough-tackling visitors. Martínez glanced a header wide before Bremen netminder Pavlenka comfortably saved a Müller effort. Bayern's biggest opportunity came when Thiago's brilliantly perceptive chip found Gnabry in the box. The ex-Werder man spun and volleyed, but Pavlenka was well-positioned and made an excellent reflex save.
Ulreich beat Milot Rashica to a pass before Alaba fired a free-kick into the wall, and a miscued Gnabry effort meant the contest was goalless at half-time.
Süle rewards Bayern
Bayern shifted up a gear after the restart. Thiago saw an effort blocked before Pavlenka denied Lewandowski. The Czech shot-stopper continued to excel when he directed a Gnabry shot onto the post and saved another Lewandowski effort. Werder were reduced to ten men when Milos Veljkovic received his marching orders for a second bookable offence.
Bayern were utterly dominant now but still struggled to overcome Pavlenka. It took a deflection to beat him, when Pavlenka dived to the right as Süle's effort was diverted and found the net. The German record champions were looking to close it out now, but Lewandowski hit the crossbar before Ribéry saw an effort blocked. The Polish striker failed to connect to a Goretzka chip, and match official Tobias Welt blew for full-time, Bayern celebrating a narrow but fully merited and crucial win.
The result takes the Bavarians onto 70 points from 30 matches, four clear of Dortmund, who travel to face Freiburg on Sunday. Bayern and Bremen meet again in four days, when they battle it out in the DFB Cup semi-final at the Weserstadion.
Live match report for fcbayern.com by Greg Salmen
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Ulreich – Kimmich, Süle, Boateng, Alaba – Martínez (Goretzka 59), Thiago – Gnabry (Sanches 87), Müller (Ribéry 70), Coman – Lewandowski
Hoffmann – Rafinha, Davies, Tolisso
Pavlenka – Gebre Selassie, Veljkovic, Moisander, Augustinsson – Sahin (Pizarro 81) – M. Eggestein, Klaassen – Möhwald (Langkamp 60) – Kruse, Rashica (Osako 73)
Kapino – Harnik, Friedl, Bargfrede
Tobias Welz (Wiesbaden)
1-0 Süle (75)
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