Freiburg - FC Bayern Munich went ten points clear at the head of the league table after a 2-0 win at SC Freiburg, ensuring they will remain top over the winter break.
Nightmare start for Freiburg
The seeds of the victory were planted for Bayern inside the opening 18 minutes, as a Thomas Müller penalty and Fallou Diagne’s red card left Freibrug a mountain to climb against the record title-winners. A spirited display from the home side gave the Bavarian giants some nervy moments, but substitute Anatoliy Tymoshchuk’s late strike completed a victory for Bayern that, in the end, was more welcome than it was convincing.
Reds coach Jupp Heynckes made two changes from the side that thrashed Hannover 96 last weekend, with Xherdan Shaqiri coming in and Mario Gomez leading the line after his goalscoring return in that game. Luis Gustavo and Bastian Schweinsteiger were both rested altogether, with the upcoming clash with champions Borussia Dortmund no doubt in mind.
Bayern’s overriding emotion from this game last season was frustration after being held to a goalless draw, but there was to be no repeat of that as they went ahead inside twelve minutes. Toni Kroos’ strong run released Franck Ribery and after his flick was deemed to have struck the hand of Freiburg’s Oliver Sorg, Müller stepped up to convert the resulting spot-kick.
It was a blow for Freiburg, but worse was still to come. The combination of Gomez and Shaqiri that did the damage, as the Swiss midfielder ran onto the former's flick-on and was cynically hauled down by Diagne, leaving the referee with no option but to produce a red card. Freiburg attempted a fightback and were typically competitive, but they remained ever susceptible to the counter-attack. Gomez should have done better than to shoot straight at Oliver Baumann, before Dante‘s header struck the cross bar on the stoke of half-time.
To their credit, Freiburg continued to press their illustrious guests after the break, with Cedric Makiadi and Julian Schuster particularly combative in the middle of the park. The best chances were still falling to the away side, however. The impressive Dante had a header well blocked, Ribery twice went close from the edge of the box and Müller sliced a drive wide after neatly turning inside defender Vegar Hedenstad.
With two thirds of the game gone, there was the sense that the next goal was all-important, yet strangely enough, it was Freiburg who seemed to want it more. The fact they were a man down was irrelevant, as constant pressing of the ball and a willingness to make runs off it saw them come close to equalising on numerous occasions. Kruse collected Daniel Caligiuri’s pass and forced a fantastic save from Neuer, before Caligiuri then went close with a solo run in the area in their best two efforts.
A booking for Neuer after 74 minutes was a sign of Bayern’s nerves, but with fresh legs on in the form of Claudio Pizarro, Rafinha and Tymoshchuk, it was they who registered the all-important second goal. Unusually far forward, Tymoshchuk raced clear to round Baumann to score his first league goal in almost exactly two years, killing off the Freiburg challenge.
The triumph means that the Reds have wrapped up the Herbstmeisterschaft with three games to spare - the earliest the feat has been achieved in Bundesliga history.
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