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Brace for Lewy

Irresistible Reds ease to victory in Augsburg

Prior to Sunday evening’s Bavarian derby away to FC Augsburg the FCB stars showed heart-warming solidarity with stricken team-mate Holger Badstuber by running out in shirts bearing the defender’s number 28 and sporting a message of encouragement on the front. Pep Guardiola’s team went on to hand Holger the best-possible tonic with a comfortable 3-1 win that restores their eight-point lead at the top of the standings, super striker Robert Lewandowski moving onto 21 league goals for the season with yet another brace.

The 30,660 full house at the WWK-Arena saw the champions control the match from the off and take a 15th-minute lead through Lewandowski. The deadly Pole doubled his tally from Thiago’s glorious 62nd-minute through ball, with Thomas Müller side-footing home the third 12 minutes from the end of an ultimately one-sided contest, Raul Bobadilla’s late strike proving nothing but a minor consolation for outclassed FCA.

An 18th win in 21 matches sees the Reds consolidate their hold on first place in the table with 56 points, still eight clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund and a cavernous 21 ahead of new third-placed club Leverkusen. The Bavarians are back in action next Saturday afternoon at home to mid-table Darmstadt 98.

Bernat back in starting line-up

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola made two changes to the team that beat Bochum in the midweek cup quarter-final, both of them enforced: Arturo Vidal and Juan Bernat took over from the injured Badstuber and the suspended Xabi Alonso. Bernat celebrated his return to the starting line-up after a 120-day absence, with new boy Serdar Tasci and fit-again Franck Ribery also in the squad and among the subs.

It meant the visitors began with Manual Neuer in goal, Bernat, captain Philipp Lahm and new centre-back pairing David Alaba and Joshua Kimmich in the back four, Vidal and Thiago in central midfield, and Müller, Douglas Costa, Arjen Robben and Lewandowski in the forward line.

Lewy’s opener

Following the Reds’ gesture of solidarity with Badstuber and after referee Florian Meyer whistled play underway on a wet and cold afternoon in Bavarian Swabia, the men from Munich assumed immediate control over the match and focused on retaining possession against the aggressive home team.

Thiago lofted the first chance of the game over the bar in the ninth minute, and although Raul Bobadilla squandered a hugely promising opportunity for FCA four minutes later with a poor first touch when he had only Neuer in front of him, it proved Augsburg’s only real opening before half-time.

Lewandowski showed how it should be done on the quarter-hour with an excellent show of close control to trap and tee up Müller’s centre 12 yards out before firing right-footed past home keeper Marwin Hitz to open the scoring.

The leaders maintained the upper hand through to the break and fashioned chances from time to time, but Lewandowski shot narrowly wide midway through the half, Vidal aimed too high from Lahm’s assist on the half-hour and produced a near carbon copy after a 37th-minute scramble in the home box, and Hitz made a good save from Costa’s free-kick on the stroke of half-time.

Irresistible FCB

The visitors came out for the second half in determined mood with Robben and Costa both loosing off early sighters, although there was a setback just before the hour when Vidal had to be taken off with a head wound, his place going to Rafinha. Alaba was also in the wars and briefly needed treatment after losing a contact lens in a collision with FCA sub Jan Moravek.

But FCB were undeterred and doubled their lead on 62 minutes when Lewandowski latched onto Thiago’s superb defence-splitting pass and completed his brace with a deft side-footed finish. Despite their comfortable lead there was no let-up from the visitors, Robben testing Hitz with a curler, Müller’s diagonal ball trundling across the face of goal but finding no takers, and the FCA keeper making a great stop from Robben’s volley after lovely build-up play from Costa and Müller.

A third goal seemed inevitable and it duly arrived on 78 minutes when Lewandowski successfully challenged Hitz for a loose ball, Costa squared and Müller side-footed home from close range. Kingsley Coman and Sebastian Rode replaced Costa and Lahm for the closing stages as the visitors completed a routine victory, Bobadilla’s spin and strike four minutes from time serving only to spoil a clean sheet for Neuer and his defenders.

Live match report for by Chris Hamley