Berlin, 18 January 2021 (dpa/MIA) – Bayern Munich returned to winning ways with a battling 2-1 victory at home to Freiburg on Sunday which extended their lead at the top of the Bundesliga to four points.
Bayern, who lost on penalties to Holstein Kiel in the German Cup in midweek having been beaten in the league by Borussia Moenchengladbach last weekend, prevailed in sleeting conditions.
Record-breaker Robert Lewandowski’s early strike and Thomas Mueller’s 74th minute winner helped them take advantage of RB Leipzig’s 2-2 draw at Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Freiburg had won their last five league games and were always in the contest, with Nils Petersen levelling moments after coming on in the second half. He also rattled the bar in stoppage time as Bayern clung on.
“We have not had an easy period,” Bayern coach Hansi Flick told a news conference.
“Today it was important for us to show that we really wanted to win this game. And I had that feeling from the very start.”
Luka Jovic, on loan from Real Madrid, scored two goals on his return to Eintracht Frankfurt as the seventh-placed side sealed a 3-1 win at home to bottom team Schalke.
The Serbia forward struck twice as a second-half substitute after American teenager Matthew Hoppe, the hat-trick hero last weekend as Schalke snapped a 30-match league winless run, was again on target when he equalized on 29 minutes.
Andre Silva had put Frankfurt ahead just a minute earlier with his 12th league goal of the campaign.
Bayern’s Flick made six changes to the side which started the German Cup second round game at second tier Kiel in midweek, when the holders ended up crashing out on sudden death penalties after a 2-2 draw.
Lewandowski was among those to return from the off, in arguably Flick’s strongest XI from last season, and he soon had Bayern ahead after 7 minutes with his 21st goal of the league season – which is a Bundesliga record from only 16 games.
Moments after Bayern were denied a penalty for handball after video review, a perfect lay-off from Mueller was expertly finished off by Lewandowski with his left foot.
Roland Sallai then fired wide with a good opportunity for Freiburg before Bayern’s Serge Gnabry had to limp off to be replaced by Leroy Sane.
Yet another injury will have riled Flick, who has yet to be convinced by Sane, who spurned a decent chance shortly after coming on.
In the second half, world player of the year Lewandowski struck the woodwork after a fine move and Leon Goretzka’s follow-up was well saved by Florian Mueller.
Having had to substitute two players early due to injury, Freiburg coach Christian Streich threw on three more players including striker Petersen on the hour in a bid to get something from the game.
And immediately Petersen nodded in at the far post with a diving header from a corner with his first touch of the ball.
Goretzka then went close again for Bayern, who upped the pressure and eventually went ahead again when Mueller guided in a cross with his customary nonchalance.
There was almost a final twist when Petersen was afforded too much space in the box in the closing stages but his effort crashed back off the bar to weary Bayern’s relief.
“It’s brutal, you are happy when you score but I also should have got another, I’m sorry,” Petersen said. “When you have a tricky spell like Bayern have had, then there’s a chance. A win was possible today, for sure.”
There are rare midweek games in the Bundesliga coming up to end the first half of the season, with Bayern in action on Wednesday at Augsburg.