Berlin - FC Bayern München took another small step to defending their Bundesliga crown thanks to a slender 1-0 win over Hertha Berlin.
The 24-time German champions could and perhaps should have had more, but in the end it was Arjen Robben's delectable first-half strike that proved decisive in taking the domestic pacesetters ten points clear of the chasing pack at the top of the standings.
It didn't take the league leaders long to settle back into their customary swagger following Tuesday's undeserved 3-2 defeat to Manchester City FC in the UEFA Champions League. A smart cross from Thomas Müller found Robert Lewandowski, but the former Borussia Dortmund frontman was unable to find the target from six yards.
The visitors had the game on lockdown, with Berlin digging themselves out of a hole to hook clear Mario Götze's teasing ball into the box and former Bayern goalkeeper Thomas Kraft snuffing out a decent opportunity for Müller. Hertha responded on the break, only for the linesman's flag to deny Roy Beerens a certain goal after the Dutchman had rounded Manuel Neuer.
That aberration aside, Pep Guardiola's side were doing all the running and deservedly got their noses in front in the 27th minute. Robben collected Müller's cool lay-off, took one look at the goal frame and whipped a trademark left-footed strike into the far corner for his first away league strike since last November's 3-0 win at Borussia Dortmund.
The writing was on the ball for Hertha, with Bayern having won all of their last 28 league assignments in which their Dutch flier had found the net. A driving right-wing run from Jens Hegeler nevertheless gave the home fans momentary reason to cheer early in the second half, only for Julian Schieber to skew the ensuing opportunity well wide of the mark.
Hosogai goal ruled out
The Old Lady did have the ball in the net after 61 minutes, but Hajime Hosogai's rising close-range strike was rightly ruled out for offside. Bayern were caught napping once again moments later as Salomon Kalou went within a whisker of sweeping home Ronny's fierce cross, before Sebastian Rode and Bastian Schweinsteiger entered the fray to bring some much-needed steel to the visitors' flagging midfield.
The capital club forged one final chance to take something from the game when Ronny's dinked free kick found US international John Anthony Brooks, who blazed over with the goal at his mercy. Bayern, however, ended the contest in the ascendancy, with Kraft twice called into action either side of that golden Hertha opening to foil Lewandowski and Schweinsteiger late on.
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