Munich - FC Bayern München maintained their lead at the top of the Bundesliga standings with a deserved 3-0 victory at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday afternoon.
Robert Lewandowski edged closer to retaining his crown as top goalscorer by hitting a goal in each half, taking his tally for the season to 16, before Thomas Müller struck late on to hand the hosts a thoroughly deserved win in a match they dominated from start to finish.
The spate of injuries that have sidelined, among others, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, David Alaba and Medhi Benatia in recent weeks finally took its toll at the Allianz Arena, as Bayern coach Pep Guardiola was only able to name four substitutes for the match. The Catalan tactician also had one eye on the club’s upcoming UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg away to FC Porto on Wednesday, rotating the side by handing Thiago his first start for over a year and replacing Manuel Neuer in goal with Pepe Reina.
The patchwork hosts took a while to settle into their stride, with Frankfurt sitting deep and biting into tackles aggressively. Yet Bayern still scored with their first attack of any real purpose after quarter of an hour, and it was well worth the wait. Thomas Müller won a header on the edge of the penalty area, glancing the ball down to Lewandowski, who flicked it over the head of his marker inside the box and arrowed an unstoppable volley into the top corner past Frankfurt keeper Kevin Trapp.
Reina on call
The custodian kept his side in the game shortly afterwards with two excellent saves to deny Lewandowski, while the visiting back four had to be ever alert to Mario Götze’s elusive movement and threaded through-balls. At the other end of the pitch, Reina was a spectator for most of the opening 45 minutes and was only called into action to pluck the ball off the toe from Sonny Kittel, who had eluded the Bayern defence to run through one-on-one, only to lay the ball too far ahead of himself.
Frankfurt began the second half with a greater sense of adventure and looked to get forward more frequently than they had done in the first period when they had only managed one shot at goal. While Bayern managed to smother their efforts easily enough, they struggled in the final third themselves, with an incisive dart down the right from Mitchell Weiser the only moment to draw applause from the crowd in an otherwise low-key period of the game.
Lewandowski strikes again
Götze sparked Bayern into life again on 62 minutes with a superb mazy run on the edge of the box to skip past two opponents before drilling a shot against the foot of the post. That preceded the hosts’ second goal moments later, when Philipp Lahm’s excellent overlapping run allowed him for him to cross to Götze, whose goalbound shot was blocked on the line by Makoto Hasebe. However, the ball looped up and Lewandowski was in the right place to nod the rebound over the line for his second of the game.
The Polish striker very nearly netted his hat-trick shortly afterwards when Sebastian Rode teed him up with a clever back-heel on the edge of the area, but his shot came back off the post. Bayern did find the net again, however, when Müller rounded off the win for the hosts in the closing stages, curling in superbly from a tight angle after Weiser had done well to beat Trapp to the ball.
Line-ups and statistics
Jonathan Stockitt reporting from the Allianz Arena