FC Bayern convincingly beat Hannover 3-1 on Saturday, extending their cushion at the top of the Bundesliga table to six points. Arturo Vidal opened the scoring to make the Bavarians' dominance count, but Charlison Benschop levelled the scores before half-time. Kingsley Coman and Robert Lewandowski sealed the victory in an entertaining match that, on another day, could easily have ended in a 6-2 scoreline.
The Bavarians started with Sven Ulreich between the sticks and Joshua Kimmich, Jérôme Boateng, Mats Hummels and Rafinha in a back four. Javi Martínez and Vidal anchored a midfield featuring Thomas Müller in the playmaking role, with James and Coman starting out wide, looking to serve lone striker Lewandowski.
Jupp Heynckes made four changes to the XI that took on Gladbach last weekend. Boateng, Rafinha, Coman and comeback kid Müller took over from Sebastian Rudy, Niklas Süle, Corentin Tolisso and Juan Bernat. Tolisso replaced Martínez before the hour mark, David Alaba coming on for Müller with ten minutes to go.
Whirlwind first half
The 75,000 capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena saw Bayern go straight onto the front foot, creating a number of gilt-edged chances. The relentless pressure paid off when Vidal rose high to connect with a fine Müller cross, his header sailing into the far corner of the net. By that time Vidal had drawn a strong save from visiting netminder Philipp Tschauner before hitting the post, with Lewandowski then miscuing a finish.
The record champions soon had the ball in the back of the net for a second time, Lewandowski tapping in only to be ruled offside. But the away side sprang to life now, and Ulreich upended Felix Klaus in the Bayern box. Niclas Füllkrug converted the spot-kick, but it had to be retaken as a number of Hannover men entered the box too early. Ulreich then atoned for the foul, diving the right way to deny Füllkrug.
Müller forced a strong save from Tschauner, but Hannover did equalise, Benschop heading in from a corner. Müller unleashed a powerful header with the half-time whistle imminent, but Tschauner directed it onto the bar. At half-time 74 percent possession and ten shots reflected Bayern's dominance, but with the scores level the Reds rued their missed chances.
Kingsley crowns his display
Proceedings were similar after the restart. A James 20-yarder went only just wide of the post before the Colombian unleashed another effort from distance, shaving the crossbar this time. Tschauner saved a Tolisso header before Coman crowned his display, finally restoring the lead. The Frenchman was a devastating menace throughout, shining with pace and his outstanding quality in one-on-ones. Midway through the second half he controlled a Müller cross with a brilliant first touch before hammering the ball into the roof of the net.
Lewandowski and Vidal tested Tschauner before Coman was upended in Hannover's box, Lewandowski proving a cool customer from the spot to settle the issue. The crowd rose again in the closing stages, hailing not a goal but two Frenchmen. Coman left the pitch, with Franck Ribéry making his yearned-for comeback after a long spell on the sidelines, before match official Guido Winkmann put an end to a brilliantly entertaining match.
The result takes Bayern onto 32 points from 14 matches, six clear of RB Leizpig, who lost away to Hoffenheim. The Reds are back in action in just three days, when they entertain Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League before travelling to face Frankfurt next Saturday.
Live match report for fcbayern.com by Greg Salmen
FC Bayern - Hannover 96 3-1 (H-T: 1-1)
Ulreich - Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Rafinha - Martínez (Tolisso 58), Vidal - Müller (Alaba 80), James, Coman (Ribéry 89) - Lewandowski
Starke, Süle, Rudy, Friedl
Tschauner - Sorg (Albornoz 80), Anton, S. Sané - Korb, Schmiedebach (Fossum 46), Bakalorz, Ostrzolek - Klaus - Benschop (Harnik 68), Füllkrug
Esser, Hübner, Maier, Karaman
Guido Winkmann (Kerken)
1-0 Vidal (17), 1-1 Benschop (35), 2-1 Coman (67), 3-1 Lewandowski (87, pen)
Ulreich, Müller / Bakalorz, Korb
Ulreich saves penalty from Füllkrug (28)