Bayern ease past Hoffenheim to extend lead at summit

Munich - FC Bayern München stretched their unbeaten record against a ten-man TSG 1899 Hoffenheim side to 13 Bundesliga games after recording a comfortable 4-0 victory at home on Saturday afternoon.

Hoffenheim adventurous

The visitors began bravely and refused to just sit deep and defend, but ultimately had no reply to first-half goals from Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski, as well as a late efforts from Arjen Robben and Sebastian Rode.

With Frank Ribery and Robben in the starting line-up together for the first time since 29 April, Bayern coach Pep Guardiola fielded an extremely attacking side in the absence of injured captain Philipp Lahm. Accordingly, the hosts pushed forward at every opportunity, but their visitors refused to let them have things all their own way and pressed high up the pitch as well, even carving out the first clear opportunity of the match.

After Niklas Süle cleared a well-worked Bayern move down the right, a Hoffenheim counter-attack ended with Tarik Elyounoussi playing in a teasing left-wing cross that Anthony Modeste should have finished from close range, only to put his header wide. The guests had another two half-chances shortly afterwards following uncharacteristic wayward passes from Manuel Neuer and Juan Bernat, but they were unable to take advantage.

Götze wonderstrike

As so often with Bayern, they stayed calm and patiently waited for an opening to come. There appeared to be little danger just before the deadlock was broken, with the hosts stroking the ball around in front of a compact Hoffenheim defence, but Götze had other ideas. He received possession 30 yards out with his back to goal, turned and unleashed an unstoppable effort into the top corner past Oliver Baumann.

Rather than caving in, however, Hoffenheim continued to attack bravely and tested a shaky-looking Neuer a couple of times more before Lewandowski gave Bayern a two-goal cushion when he headed in Robben’s cross at the back post. The Bavarians increased the pressure immediately after the break in an effort to extinguish any Hoffenheim hopes of a comeback and had chances to extend their lead through Ribery and Götze, but Baumann managed to save each time.

Schweinsteiger returns

To their credit, Hoffenheim never gave up and doggedly stuck to their attacking instincts. Kevin Volland almost pulled one back with a rasping left-foot shot from distance that Neuer did well to tip over, and they continued to press their hosts deep into their own half. Adam Szalai then should have reduced the deficit in the closing stages but somehow fired straight at Neuer from five yards out with the goal at his mercy.

A satisfactory day at the office was made even better for Bayern shortly before the end when midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger made his return from a knee injury, playing in a competitive game for the first time in 132 days - his last appearance was in the World Cup final against Argentina. A fine team display was capped late on with a delightful dinked effort from Robben, before Schweinsteiger teed up Rode to lash in his first league goal for the club. The margin of victory was perhaps a tad unfair on Hoffenheim, who also had Szalai sent off in the last minute for a dangerous tackle, but the champions march on.

Line-ups and statistics

Jonathan Stockitt reporting from the Allianz Arena