Created on 2019-12-21 at 17:34 PM
Bayern Munich ended 2019 on a high with a 2-0 win over VfL Wolfsburg at the Allianz Arena on Bundesliga Matchday 17. The Reds struggled for a long time against the league’s best defense but teenager Joshua Zirkzee was again the hero late on, breaking the deadlock just moments after coming on before Serge Gnabry sealed it. The result means FCB finishes the first half of the season in third place, four points behind leaders RB Leipzig.
With only 11 senior outfield players available, Hansi Flick made just one change to his starting line-up following Wednesday’s win at Freiburg. Javi Martínez came in for the suspended Thiago, with Joshua Kimmich moving into midfield and Benjamin Pavard to right-back. Five of Bayern’s seven substitutes came from the reserve team, including Wednesday’s hero Zirkzee.
Bayern controlled proceedings from the off and created the first real opening on 12 minutes when Thomas Müller’s cross picked out former Wolfsburg man Ivan Perišić, whose header was pushed away by goalkeeper Koen Casteels at the near post. The hosts were given a scare a few minutes later when Xaver Schlager played in Felix Klaus, but Manuel Neuer came out to make a good block. The men in red were soon back on the front foot, though, David Alaba testing Casteels from a free-kick and Müller dragging a shot wide from just outside the area.
The Bayern attacks continued to come, although clear-cut chances were few and far between. Gnabry flashed an effort across goal which Casteels got a hand to, while arguably the best opportunity of the first half fell to Philippe Coutinho from Robert Lewandowski’s lay-off, but the Brazilian blasted over. The injury curse struck again in stoppage time as Martínez pulled up with what appeared to be a hamstring injury and had to be replaced by Jérôme Boateng.
Zirkzee does it again
The visitors were bolder in the second half and Bayern was grateful that Joao Victor and Schlager both wasted good openings early on. Coutinho then popped up on the edge of the area again, but his curling shot was tipped over by Casteels at full stretch. The game then became somewhat niggly and stop-start, with a number of fouls and yellow cards on both sides as the Wolves continued to frustrate Bayern, who were restricted to half-chances and long-range shots. The visitors even came close to nicking a goal when Maximilian Arnold's strike was deflected just wide.
With the match heading for a goalless draw – the first at the Allianz Arena since April 2018 – Zirkzee again produced the match-winning goal just minutes after coming on for Coutinho. Müller’s cut-back from the right was left by Gnabry for the 18-year-old to tuck away his second goal in his second Bundesliga appearance. Gnabry himself then made sure of the three points three minutes later, volleying home after Lewandowski headed down a cross-field ball as the Reds claimed a labored but deserved victory.
Live match report for fcbayern.com by Joseph Rutter
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Neuer - Pavard, Martínez (Boateng 45+2), Alaba, Davies - Kimmich - Müller, Coutinho (Zirkzee 83) - Gnabry (Dajaku 90), Lewandowski, Perišić
Ulreich - Mai, Singh, Batista-Meier
Casteels – Mbabu, Tisserand, Brooks, Roussillon – Guilavogui, Arnold - Steffen (Paulo Otávio 67), Schlager (Gerhardt 57), João Victor - Klaus (Weghorst 77)
Pervan – William, Bruma, Brekalo, Knoche, Ginczek
Christian Dingert (Lebecksmühle)
1-0 Zirkzee (85.), 2-0 Gnabry (89.)
Kimmich, Müller / Paulo Otávio, Arnold