Stuttgart - A stunning Thiago Alcantara goal earned FC Bayern München a 2-1 win over VfB Stuttgart which extends their lead at the top of the Bundesliga to 13 points.
Young and confident
Vedad Ibisevic broke the deadlock just before the half-hour mark for a confident-looking Stuttgart, who survived a second-half onslaught until substitute Claudio Pizarro, the Bundesliga's most prolific foreign goalscorer, brought Bayern level. It looked like Bayern were going to drop points for only the third time this season, yet Thiago Alcantara stepped into the spotlight with a stylish finish in the dying seconds which earned Pep Guardiola's men all three points.
Fielding one of the youngest sides in their history, Stuttgart expressed plenty of youthful verve and certainly none of the star-struck fear one might expect when faced with a side who have gone 42 games unbeaten. While Bayern soon settled into their habitual possession-based game, it was actually the home team who posed the greater threat.
Martin Harnik was giving compatriot and Austrian Sportsman of the Year David Alaba a torrid time down the right and from one of his crosses, Mohammed Abdellaoue was presented with the first chance of the game. The former Hannover 96 striker delayed a little too long, but still managed to feed the ball out to Timo Werner, who drove his shot wide from an angle. It was certainly a warning that Stuttgart were not going to make things easy for the Bundesliga leaders.
Xherdan Shaqiri wasted Bayern's first chance when he hooked the ball over the crossbar, but the more dangerous incidents were all taking place at the other end of the field. Another Harnik cross was headed against Rafinha by Werner before Stuttgart took a deserved lead through Ibisevic. The Bosnian provided a composed finish for his tenth goal of the season after Abdellaoue, wittingly or not, teed him up ten yards from goal.
Bayern's response came from a Thiago effort which was pushed over by Sven Ulreich and a Shaqiri shot which was curled wide, but Stuttgart held on until the break. A second-half reaction from Bayern was inevitable, yet Stuttgart continued to have their chances: Ibisevic flashed a shot wide and the Bayern defence was penetrated again by Harnik, whose eventual acrobatic effort was headed off the line by Jerome Boateng.
Sting in the tail
Guardiola sent on the cavalry with Mario Mandzukic and Pizarro, and the latter immediately set up Thiago, whose placed shot was deflected behind by the leg of Ulreich. The chances were multiplying for Bayern and only some desperate defending got Stuttgart off the hook when Mario Götze and Thomas Müller both had shots blocked. The hosts' resistance was finally broken 15 minutes from time when Pizarro nodded in his 168th Bundesliga goal.
Stuttgart got something of a second wind following the equaliser, with Werner testing Manuel Neuer and Dante scampering back to clear the danger again as Bayern found themselves in an unusual position of not leading a game heading into the final ten minutes. Stange it may have been, but impossible it was not, as deep into stoppage time, Thiago silenced the Mercedes-Benz Arena with a strike of admirable technical brilliance, leaving Ulreich no chance and earning Bayern a win from the jaws of defeat.
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