Bayern Munich four points clear after laboured win over Augsburg

      Published on Monday, 9 March , 2020      300      
Bayern Munich four points clear after laboured win over Augsburg

Bayern Munich moved four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga on Sunday with a labored 2-0 home win over local rivals Augsburg.

Thomas Mueller struck the opening goal in the 53rd minute and Leon Goretzka added an injury-time second after Bayern initially struggled to create chances against the organized Augsburg defence.

After the restart Bayern played with greater intensity and Joshua Zirkzee, Philippe Coutinho and Serge Gnabry all spurned opportunities before Manuel Neuer produced a point-blank save to deny Florian Niederlechner a shock equalizer.

Champions Bayern are pursued by Borussia Dortmund, who are second after winning 2-1 at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday, dpa reported.

Augsburg stay 14th as Mainz, who could have skipped them with a win, conceded a late equalizer to draw 1-1 with Fortuna Dusseldorf in the weekend’s final game.

A pre-match choreography celebrating Bayern’s 120th anniversary greeted the home players, who were wearing special shirts in honour of the club’s first German championship from 1932.

But they were anything but inspired in a lethargic opening half in which Augsburg keeper Andreas Luthe, called up to replace Tomas Koubek, did not make a single save.

“We did not invest enough in running,” Mueller told Sky television, though admitted he should have opened the scoring when he shot over in the 45th minute.

The fans, meanwhile, contented themselves with banners and songs criticizing the German federation DFB in a continuation of protests against the commercialization of football and collective punishments of supporters.

Bayern were still without top striker Robert Lewandowski and lacked a focal point for attacks despite controlling the majority of possession.

“We knew it would be a difficult game,” said Bayern coach Hansi Flick. “The first half in particular showed that. Augsburg sat deep and closed the space.”

A hungrier side emerged from the half-time interval and Mueller almost immediately made the breakthrough by guiding home Jerome Boateng’s pinpoint chip over the defence.

“At the end that is the quality of Bayern,” said Luthe, who joked he “almost fell asleep” in the first half.

Augsburg suddenly looked tired but Luthe made a wonderful save to deny Dutch teenager Zirkzee a fourth goal from five Bundesliga games and then repeated the trick to keep out Coutinho.

Gnabry twice shot narrowly wide and Bayern were nearly punished when Alfred Finnbogason cut back for Niederlechner with 10 minutes remaining. An equalizer loomed but the forward sent his shot too close to keeper Neuer and his attempt on the rebound deflected wide.

“We had to thank Manu despite the pressing,” said Mueller. “This is not the level we want to play at.”

Niederlechner did find the net later but was ruled correctly, if marginally, offside before substitute Goretzka slipped a calm finish past Luthe in added time.

Mainz took the lead against the run of play through Levin Oeztunali in the second half but lost Jean-Philippe Mateta to a second yellow card.

Even so Fortuna needed a defensive mix-up to level through Kenan Karaman five minutes from time.

Dusseldorf stay in the relegation play-off spot three points ahead of Werder Bremen and four behind Mainz, who are one shy of Augsburg.

Category Sport | 2020/03/09 latest update at 4:30 PM
Source : BNA | Photocredit : Google
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