An outstanding performance by Franck Ribéry ensured FC Bayern ended the year on a positive note, beating Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 on Saturday evening to advance to second place in the table. The Frenchman rewarded Bayern's dominance after the half-hour and twisted the knife with a quarter-hour to go, Rafinha adding the final flourish in the closing stages.
The Bavarians started with Manuel Neuer in goal and Rafinha, Niklas Süle, Jérôme Boateng and David Alaba in a back four. Joshua Kimmich and Javi Martínez anchored a midfield featuring Thomas Müller, Thiago and Ribéry, with Robert Lewandowski as lone striker. Kingsley Coman, Meritan Shabani and Sandro Wagner replaced Ribéry, Müller and Lewandowski shortly before the final whistle.
One up at half-time
The 51,500 capacity crowd at the Commerzbank Arena saw the two sides feel each other out for a few minutes, but the game soon sprang to life, Neuer being the busier of the keepers at first. Bayern's number one made two saves from Danny da Costa. Süle made a crucial block against Sebastien Haller before Jovic fired wide. The Bavarians slowly but surely asserted their authority, Frankfurt netminder Kevin Trapp proving equal to an Alaba free-kick before shining with two fine saves, denying a Martínez header and Müller's rebound.
Mijat Gacinovic almost put through his own goal under pressure from Lewandowski. Bayern's pressure was rewarded when Lewandowski perceptively set up the unmanned Ribéry, who slotted home. The Poland captain soon stood out with another fine invitation, but this time Thomas Müller saw his header crash off the crossbar.
Franck twists the knife
Proceedings were similar after the restart. Ribéry charged down the left and squared to Lewandowski, but his first touch let him down. Müller rifled over the bar following an Alaba cross. There was danger in the Bayern box when da Costa found himself unmarked following a corner, but Neuer comfortably saved his back-heel effort.
Luka Jovic hit the side-netting before Haller miscued a header, but Ribéry rounded off his brace and doubled the lead, finding the net via the inside of the post after a give-and-go with Kimmich. Bayern were in control now and skillfully ran down the clock. Shortly before the final whistle Rafinha miscued a cross, but Lady Luck was smiling in Bayern's direction, the ball sailing over Trapp and into the far corner of the net; a wonder goal to round off the run-in to Christmas.
The result means Bayern head into 2019 lying second in the Bundesliga on 36 points, six short of Dortmund. The fans can enjoy football on 13 January, when the Reds contest the Telekom Cup in Düsseldorf. The German record champions are back in Bundesliga action on 18 January, when they travel to face Hoffenheim.
Live match report for fcbayern.com by Greg Salmen
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Trapp – Salcedo, Fallete, Ndicka - da Costa, Fernandes (N. Müller 70), Willems, Kostic - Gacinovic (de Guzman 43) - Jovic, Haller
Rönnow, Stendera, Russ, Tawatha, Hrgota
Neuer - Rafinha, Süle, Boateng, Alaba - Kimmich, Martínez - Müller (Shabani 90), Thiago, Ribéry (Coman 90) - Lewandowski (Wagner 90)
Manuel Gräfe (Berlin)
0-1 Ribéry (35), 0-2 Ribéry (79), 0-1 Rafinha (89)
Fernandes, de Guzman / Alaba