Dortmund - Robert Lewandowski scored the only goal of the game as FC Bayern München edged Borussia Dortmund 1-0 in der Klassiker at the Signal Iduna Park.
The Pole’s 37th-minute strike against his former club rewarded a dominant first-half display from Pep Guardiola’s side, who controlled possession after weathering an early BVB storm. Marco Reus came closest to an equaliser as the hosts pressed in the second period, but, ultimately, Dortmund’s lack of cutting edge in front of goal proved their downfall.
Despite an injury-ravaged squad, Bayern lined up with Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger playing together for the first time since the FIFA World Cup final in July. Not even that experienced pairing, however, could prevent Dortmund’s relentless pressing threatening to overwhelm the visitors in the opening stages. Although Thomas Müller enjoyed the first shot of the game by dinking over Roman Weidenfeller in the seventh minute, the opening quarter-hour took place almost exclusively in the Bayern half.
In spite of Dortmund’s high pressing, led on the flanks by Kevin Kampl and Jakub Blaszczykowski, Müller’s earlier effort remained the best opportunity for either side until the halfway point of the first period. Once Xabi Alonso had extricated himself from Kampl, however, he began to dictate proceedings, freeing up Lahm and Schweinsteiger, who in turn forced the pressure back onto BVB’s high line. Medhi Benatia’s 24th-minute effort from the Spaniard’s free kick drew a good block from Sokratis, while Müller’s movement continued to cause the hosts plenty of problems.
Another Alonso set piece was next to threaten Weidenfeller’s goal, with the veteran’s 33rd-minute strike curling just wide of the upright. Undeterred, Bayern continued to impose their possession-based style, and deservedly went ahead four minutes later when Lewandowski, following up after Müller’s effort was parried by Weidenfeller, nodded home from close range. Both Ilkay Gündogan and Neven Subotic came close in response, but, Bayern’s defence, marshalled expertly by Jerome Boateng, was equal to BVB’s first real attempts on Manuel Neuer’s goal.
Gündogan was again prominent after the restart as, much like the opening of the first period, BVB piled on the pressure. The midfielder twice fired wide in quick succession, while Sokratis’ aggression higher up the right flank ensured Bayern remained firmly in their own half. Reus began to find more space, in turn releasing Kampl on the left, whose dangerous cross was well-cleared from the toes of Blaszczykowski at the back post by Juan Bernat in the 57th minute.
Neuer to the rescue
After coming close, Dortmund’s gilt-edged chance fell to Reus in the 60th minute. Charging into the box, the 25-year-old’s well-struck shot flew into the side-netting, much to the dismay of the sold-out home crowd. Five minutes later, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang also found himself in behind, but could only fire over the bar, before Neuer, in typical swashbuckling fashion, prevented Reus latching onto substitute Shinji Kagawa’s clever chipped through ball. At the other end, Lewandowski shot wide, but, unbowed, BVB continued to hunt the equaliser.
Mats Hummels spurned another clear chance at the back post in the 85th minute, while Bayern were indebted to Neuer for preserving their lead with a superb sprawling stop from Reus’ wicked free kick three minutes later. Adrian Ramos wasted a late chance, but it was another substitute, Thiago, whose calm late display ensured Bayern saw out the victory and moved a step closer to the Bundesliga title.
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