Never-say-die Bayern again struck late in the Bundesliga to salvage a 1-1 draw away to Hertha Berlin on Saturday afternoon. Vedad Ibisevic put the hosts in front after 20 minutes in a match utterly dominated by the German record champions, who struggled to find the net for a long time before Robert Lewandowski finally levelled the scores with the latest Bundesliga goal since detailed data collection began in 2004.
The German record champions lined up with Manuel Neuer behind a back four comprising Philipp Lahm, Mats Hummels, David Alaba and Juan Bernat. Joshua Kimmich, Arturo Vidal and Thiago took up station in midfield, with Arjen Robben and Douglas Costa out wide and Thomas Müller up front.
Carlo Ancelotti made three changes to the XI that saw off Arsenal on Wednesday, but maintained the 4-2-3-1 formation that worked so well in Champions League action. Bernat, Kimmich and Müller replaced Javi Martínez, Xabi Alonso and Lewandowski, with David Alaba deputising as a centre-back.
The 74,649 capacity crowd at the Olympic Stadium saw the Reds start in the driving seat, with both sides looking to open the scoring in an entertaining first quarter-hour before the pace dropped. The hosts took the lead following a debatable free-kick, Vedad Ibisevic beating Mats Hummels to the ball and blasting past Neuer midway through the first half.
The Bavarians were more resolute in looking for the equaliser now, but the men from the capital pulled every man back behind the ball and aggressively crowded their own half, occasionally seeking to strike on the break. And when Hertha won possession, there was danger in Neuer's box with Ibisevic seemingly netting a second, but this time from a blatantly offside position. It meant gilt-edged chances were hard to come by for Ancelotti's men, although Hertha netminder Rune Jarstein was called into action by Hummels, Robben and Müller.
Reds let down by final ball
The pattern was similar after the interval, the German record champions dominating possession but proving toothless in the final third, with Pál Dárdai's troops still dangerous on the break. Ibisevic aimed a shade wide early into the second half before Robben and Thiago tested the excellent Jarstein. Ancelotti brought on Lewandowski and Alonso for Kimmich and Vidal on the hour in an effort to raise the tempo.
Bayern duly upped the pressure but failed to find the final ball against the clutter of Hertha players ahead of them. Ancelotti played his final card, Kingsley Coman taking over from Bernat. Müller failed to connect with a Costa cross before Alaba's free-kick forced Jarstein into an excellent save.
Lewy to the rescue
The men in red were staring at defeat, but deep into injury time Coman was felled on the edge of the penalty area, and in a desperate effort to secure a point even Manuel Neuer came up for the free-kick. Robben's effort following the set piece was blocked on the goal-line, but up stepped sub Lewandowski, popping up in the right place at the right time to tap home the loose ball from point-blank range.
The result means Bayern have 50 points from 21 matches, eight clear of RB Leipzig, who cross swords with Mönchengladbach on Sunday. The Reds are back in action next Saturday, when they entertain Hamburg in the Bundesliga.
Live match report for fcbayern.com by Greg Salmen
Hertha BSC - FC Bayern 1-1 (H-T: 1-0)
Jarstein - Pekarik, Langkamp, Brooks, Plattenhardt - Stark, Skjelbred - Haraguchi (Lustenberger 90+3), Darida, Kalou - Ibisevic (Esswein 87)
Kraft - Mittelstädt, Torunarigha, Stocker, Allagui
Neuer - Lahm, Hummels, Alaba, Bernat (Coman 77) - Kimmich (Lewandowski 61), Vidal (Alonso 61), Thiago - Robben, Müller, Costa
Ulreich - Rafinha, Martinez, Sanches
Patrick Ittrich (Hamburg)
1-0 Ibisevic (21), 1-1 Lewandowski (90+6)
Pekarik / Hummels, Lewandowski, Alonso