Augsburg - FC Bayern München secured the Bundesliga top spot over the winter break - the fabled Herbstmeisterschaft - with a thoroughly deserved 4-0 victory away to Bavarian neighbours FC Augsburg.
End to end
The hosts held on throughout the first half but fell away after the break, with an Arjen Robben brace and goals from Medhi Benatia and Robert Lewandowski completing a comprehensive win for the guests.
The last time Bayern visited the SGL Arena they lost 1-0 - having already won the 2013/14 Bundesliga title by then - but Pep Guardiola’s side nevertheless started as if they had a score to settle. The visitors had several chances inside the first ten minutes as Robben was twice allowed to cut in from the left before drilling efforts narrowly wide of Alex Manninger’s left-hand post.
The hosts also looked dangerous in attack, however, and Manuel Neuer appeared to be tempting fate on two occasions when he only narrowly pulled off his sweeper-keeper function ahead of an onrushing attacker. That encouraged Augsburg to keep pushing forward and they harried Bayern deep into the visitors’ half, although a Nikola Djurdjic header that flew wide from a free-kick was the closest they came to breaking the deadlock.
As half time approached, Augsburg were no longer able to sustain their intense pressing, which allowed Bayern to dominate the match at will, enjoying up to 73 per cent possession at times. They managed to get behind the home defence on a number of occasions, with Robben, Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger all going close, only to be denied each time by the outstanding Manninger.
The second half began at a furious pace and Bayern went close to taking the lead within seconds, but Lewandowski glanced a header from Ribery’s cross just over the bar. Manninger was called into action shortly afterwards to flick Xabi Alonso’s goal-bound header off the line as the Bundesliga leaders created chances almost by the minute. Augsburg tried to relieve the pressure by releasing Djurdjic and Hamil Altintop with long balls over the Bayern defence, but Neuer was ever-alert and able to clear the danger.
Inevitably, Bayern’s relentless waves of attacks took their toll and the course of the game changed once Benatia headed the visitors in front from Ribery’s free-kick. A minute later Guardiola’s charges doubled their lead when Robben, unchallenged on the edge of the penalty area, was allowed to curl a delightful left-footed shot in off the post.
There was no coming back for Augsburg, but Bayern were not finished there. Lewandowski added his name to the scoresheet with a superb drive from distance that caught Manninger off guard, before Robben crowned a superb individual display with his second of the afternoon after another trademark move and shot cutting in from the right.
Line-ups and statistics
Jonathan Stockitt reporting from the SGL Arena