Munich - FC Bayern Munich continued to set the pace at the top of the Bundesliga table with a 2-0 home victory against fellow high-fliers Eintracht Frankfurt.
Despite a spirited display from the promoted outfit, Franck Ribery's first-half finish and a second-half penalty from David Alaba were enough to ensure the Bavarians a hard-fought three points. Frankfurt are now winless in their last three and but retain third place in the standings, a point ahead of reigning champions Borussia Dortmund.
With the visitors eager to assert themselves as credible top-of-the-table challengers, a fierce start ensued at the sold-out Allianz Arena with tackles flying in from the off. Bayern were the first to threaten when Arjen Robben put wide from a tight angle after being fed by Toni Kroos, but Frankfurt were anything but awestruck and ought to have taken the lead themselves when Stefan Aigner headed over in space.
Unsurprisingly Bayern enjoyed the majority of possession and were twice denied by Eintracht keeper Kevin Trapp. Alaba's dipping free-kick needed beating away before Ribery saw his low finish deflected around the post by the 22-year-old's outstretched leg following a fine chipped pass from Kroos.
Ribery tucks home
However, Frankfurt again responded as Alexander Meier headed narrowly wide from a Bastian Oczipka cross, making it all the more difficult to stomach when the visitors went behind shortly before the interval. The warning signs were there when Daniel van Buyten, brought on for the injured Jerome Boateng, had a header ruled out for offside, but there was no stopping Ribery minutes later as he tucked in from Javi Martinez' unselfish assist.
Buoyed by the opener, Bayern might well have added to their lead prior to the interval, but two Trapp saves from Kroos and then Ribery were enough to keep the half-time deficit at one goal. But Frankfurt were not playing the role of the typical promoted side at the Allianz. Instead of limiting the potential damage, they continued their search for an equaliser and were unfortunate to hit the bar when Anderon headed Meier's flick-on against the bar five minutes into the second period.
Alaba on the spot
Van Buyten went close with another header from a Robben corner, but Frankfurt remained dangerous on the counter. However, with chances proving hard to come by for Armin Veh's side, Bayern were given the opportunity to consolidate their lead when Bastian Schweinsteiger was tumbled in the box by Vadim Demidov. Alaba stepped up to the honours after a quick consultation with regular taker Thomas Müller and confidently thumped into the corner with 13 minutes remaining.
The Austrian international's first Bundesliga goal in a year virtually killed off the Frankfurt threat and in truth the record champions should have added further to their tally late on, only for the excellent Trapp to save yet again from Ribery and then Robben. Ultimately the two-nil scoreline may reflect harshly on Frankfurt, but that won't trouble Bayern, who maintain their seven-point lead at the top of the pile.
Line-ups and statistics
Andy James reporting from Munich