Bayern moved back to the top of the Bundesliga with a 2-1 victory over second-from-bottom Freiburg, but Louis van Gaal’s side were way off their best in the aftermath of their midweek European exertions, and were grateful to two-goal Arjen Robben’s individual brilliance for the crucial home win.
The 69,000 full house at the Allianz Arena saw Cedrick Makiadi hand the visitors a half-time lead against the sluggish home side, who rallied midway through the second half and restored terms through Robben a quarter of an hour from time. The Dutch ace completed a fine week for his club and for him personally seven minutes from the end with the penalty which sealed three utterly vital points in the title race.
The narrow success returns Bayern to the top of the standings on 56 points from 26 matches, two clear of Schalke and six ahead of Bayer Leverkusen, who face a tricky home fixture with Hamburg on Sunday evening.
In the absence of Martin Demichelis (facial fractures), Mario Gomez (ruptured calf muscle), Franck Ribéry (ankle), Bastian Schweinsteiger (suspended), Hamit Altintop (ill) and Christian Lell (sports rehab training), Louis van Gaal made three enforced changes to the side which lost to Fiorentina but made the Champions League quarter-finals in midweek.
Danijel Pranjic came into midfield, with Miro Klose and Ivica Olic forming a new front pairing. Mark van Bommel reported fit after shaking off a cold, and 17-year-old David Alaba retained his place in the side at left-back.
Once referee Markus Schmidt whistled proceedings underway on an overcast and chilly evening in the Bavarian capital, the sides spent the first twenty minutes feeling each other out, the visitors adopting the customary policy of pulling men back behind the ball and waiting for chances on the break.
Yacine Abdessadki put the ball on target after one Freiburg foray, but the Morocco international directed his header straight at Jörg Butt. That jerked Bayern awake, and the home side had a huge shout for a penalty on 26 minutes when Simon Pouplin appeared to fell Klose in the box, although replays showed the Freiburg keeper just laid fingers on the ball first.
Klose then ghosted into the corridor of uncertainty between two defenders and the keeper but directed a free header wide of the gaping net, a miss which appeared to deflate Bayern and hand the visitors renewed heart. Robin Dutt’s men strung together a couple of passing moves, DR Congo striker Makiadi getting on the end of Abdessadki’s lay-off on 31 minutes and belting a rising drive into the top right corner of Butt’s net.
French striker Jonathan Jäger whistled a drive wide of the far stick with the FCB defence standing off, and all Van Gaal’s men could muster in reply was an off-target Pranjic effort as the visitors comfortably protected their lead through to the interval.
The pattern was the same in the first phase after the restart, Johannes Flum flashing a drive wide after strolling into acres of space on the left of the Bayern defence, although Robben did his best to spark a fightback with a neat piece of control and shot on the turn.
Daniel van Buyten and Thomas Müller both tried their luck from long range, but the first sniff of real danger came when Pranjic released fellow Croat Olic down the left, Pouplin spreading himself bravely to deny Müller at point-blank range. That roused the crowd and the home team, Robben drawing a good save out of Pouplin with a direct free-kick, and Olic glancing a header too close to the keeper.
Van Gaal sent on Anatoliy Tymoshchuk for the struggling Pranjic and despatched Van Buyten to the centre-forward position, a change which almost brought instant results as Abdessadki cleared Olic’ header off the line with what looked suspiciously like a hand, and Van Buyten himself saw an effort hacked out of the danger zone.
The equaliser finally arrived on 76 minutes when Robben bent a stunner round the Freiburg wall and past Pouplin’s flailing dive from a direct free-kick, the Dutchman’s second cracking goal in the space of four days. He almost made it another with a sublime run and shot, but the visiting keeper threw out a hand and made the save.
Pouplin excelled himself again to prevent Klose handing his side the lead, but the pressure finally paid off after 83 minutes when Bayern were awarded a clear penalty following Freiburg sub Ivica Banovic’ blatant foul on Müller. Robben stepped up and hammered the award high to Pouplin’s left to complete the turnaround and seal a hard-earned but ultimately deserved victory for the home side.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley
|Bayern Munich - Freiburg FC 2-1 (H-T: 0-1)|
|Bayern Munich||Butt - Lahm, Van Buyten, Badstuber, Alaba - Van Bommel, Pranjic (Tymoshchuk 71) - Robben, Klose, Müller - Olic|
|Substitutes:||Rensing, Görlitz, Contento, Ekici|
|Freiburg FC||Pouplin - Mujdza (Williams 75), Toprak, Butscher, Bastians - Makiadi (Banovic 72), Flum (Cissé 88) - Abdessadki, Schuster, Jäger - Idrissou|
|Referee:||Markus Schmidt (Stuttgart)|
|Goals:||0-1 Makiadi (31), 1-1 Robben (76), 2-1 Robben (83)|
|Yellow Cards:||Pranjic, Müller, Lahm / Abdessadki, Banovic, Idrissou, Toprak|