Bayern Munich restored their 18-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga in the absence of their head coach Jupp Heynckes, but they were made to work for all three points in a 2-1 win over Schalke.
Bayern 2-1 Schalke
Goals: 1-0 Lewandowski (6'), 1-1 Di Santo (29'), 2-1 Müller (36')
In the absence of their coach Jupp Heynckes, who was at home due to illness, Bayern appeared to be sharing his cold symptoms early on as Breel Embolo and Daniel Caligiuri squandered good chances for the guests. It was business as usual soon after, though, when Thomas Müller's pile-driver was teed up for Robert Lewandowski by Ralf Fährmann's one-handed block, and the Pole accepted the gift to score his 19th of the season. Thilo Kehrer headed wide as Schalke suggested it was not going to be a monologue, and when Franco Di Santo drilled in at the end of another Schalke attack, it was game on at the Allianz Arena. Bayern accepted the challenge and Müller threaded the needle with a shot from an almost impossible angle to restore the hosts' lead ten minutes before the break.
The first-half race had been won by Bayern, but there was still a marathon to complete and Schalke refused to relent with Embolo wasting an opportunity from a promising position as Bayern-bound Leon Goretzka left no doubts about his current allegiance as he pulled the strings in a Royal Blue rhombus. Bayern continued to carve openings of their own, while Embolo forced a fine diving save out of Sven Ulreich back at the other end. Benjamin Stambouli made an even more telling intervention to deny Lewandowski a seemingly-certain second as the game headed into a frenetic final 15 minutes. Heynckes' assistant Peter Hermann withdrew James Rodriguez and bolstered the defence with Javier Martinez, and the hosts held on to a win which edges them even closer to the title.
- James Rodriguez has scored or assisted in all three of his Bundesliga games since the winter break. His first Bundesliga goal came against Schalke, where he had a hand in all three Bayern goals.The Royal Blues are on a 15-game winless run against Bayern in the Bundesliga, picking up just three of a possible 45 points.Bayern have scored at least once in their last 19 Bundesliga games.When Müller has scored, Bayern have never lost in the Bundesliga: 75 wins and four draws.Robert Lewandowski has scored in all 11 home Bundesliga games this season, equalling the record set by his coach Jupp Heynckes, who was the only player in Bundesliga history to score in the first 11 home matches of a season.
Bayern: Ulreich - Kimmich, Boateng (71' Süle), Hummels, Alaba - Martinez, Vidal - Robben (c), James (81' Martinez), Ribery (77' Coman) - Lewandowski
Unused subs: Starke, Wagner, Rafinha, Tolisso
Absentees: Neuer, Früchtl (both foot)
Coach: Jupp Heynckes
Schalke: Fährmann (c) – Kehrer, Stambouli, Naldo – Caligiuri, Meyer (59' Oczipka), Goretzka, Schöpf – Embolo, Burgstaller (65' Harit), Di Santo (77' Konoplyanka)
Unused subs: Nübel, Pjaca, Teuchert, Tekpetey
Absentees: Baba (fitness), Insua (ribs), Nastasic (suspended)
Coach: Domenico Tedesco
Watch: Robben on Bayern being "well prepared" despite Heynckes' absence