The artistry of second-half substitute Franck Ribery (r.) made all the difference for Bayern after Xabi Alonso had levelled for the Bundesliga leaders
The artistry of second-half substitute Franck Ribery (r.) made all the difference for Bayern after Xabi Alonso had levelled for the Bundesliga leaders

Bayern's class tells in Hanover

Hanover - FC Bayern München extended their lead at the top of the Bundesliga standings to 11 points after coming from behind to beat Hannover 96 3-1 on Matchday 24.

Kiyotake breaks the deadlock

Xavi Alonso cancelled out Hiroshi Kiyotake’s opening goal, but it was substitute Franck Ribery who proved the catalyst for the victory, the Frenchman having a say in a second-half brace from Thomas Müller.

With one eye on next week’s must-win UEFA Champions League last-16 second leg at home to Ukrainian champions FC Shakhtar Donetsk, Pep Guardiola left the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Robert Lewandowski, Ribery and returning defender Medhi Benatia on the bench. Alonso started in midfield, protecting a back three comprising Jerome Boateng, Dante and Holger Badstuber.

Hannover defender Christian Schulz had already headed wide from an unmarked position when Bayern centre-back Dante was again caught wanting under pressure from Artur Sobiech. The Polish forward hared in on Manuel Neuer’s goal, but Badstuber came across to make a timely interception. The Germany international couldn’t prevent the hosts taking the lead, though, as Kiyotake got the better of Dante and fired into the bottom corner following a great bit of play from the industrious Jimmy Briand.

Bayern restore order

It was the fourth time this season Bayern had fallen behind, but parity was restored little over two minutes later. David Alaba won a free kick on the edge of the box, with Alonso dispatching the ensuing set-piece for his second Bundesliga goal since leaving Real Madrid CF last summer. In spite of that swift riposte, Guardiola looked far from impressed, the Catalan perfectionist sending on forward Lewandowski in place of Dante 14 minutes before the break

By Bayern’s lofty standards, it had been a first half to forget, but the introduction of Ribery swiftly turned the game on its head. Europe's 2013 Footballer of the Year whipped in a telling ball from the left-hand side that caused all kinds of problems in the box. Lewandowski took a boot to the face for his troubles from Marcelo, with the referee pointing to the spot and Müller calmly tucking away his tenth of the season from 12 yards.

Bundesliga gold

Another quick one-two put an end to any lingering hopes the 96ers had of taking something from the game. Ribery scooped a stunning left-footed cross into the path of Müller, who towered above his marker to send a thunderous header beyond the reach of Hannover custodian Ron-Robert Zieler for the free-scoring Bavarians' 21st goal in their last four league matches.

Arjen Robben had the chance to add to that tally with five minutes remaining, but his free kick sailed high and wide. Bayern's Dutch sensation was nevertheless able to celebrate his very own piece of Bundesliga history, having reached the 100 top-flight-win mark in record time after just 126 appearances.

Line-ups and statistics

Christopher Mayer-Lodge

Check out Bastian Schweinsteiger's cheeky prank on a member of the Bayern staff prior to the Hannover match on the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: