Kingsley Coman’s first-half goal was enough for Bayern Munich to push past Hertha Berlin on Friday night as they struggled to a 1-0 win at the Olympiastadion.
The goal came with a hint of fortune as Bayern made amends for Robert Lewandowski’s missed penalty 10 minutes earlier.
Pal Dardai introduced three changes from the Hertha side that fell to a 3-1 loss against Eintracht Frankfurt last week. Regular full-backs Maximilian Mittelstadt and Peter Pekarik returned to the starting line-up, while ahead of them, loanee Matteo Guendouzi made way for Vladimir Darida. Rune Jarstein made his second start of the season between the sticks, 230 days since his last home appearance.
Visiting Bayern set up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, six days on from their 4-1 win over TSG Hoffenheim. Ex-Herthaner Jerome Boateng was benched as Niklas Sule was handed a start, while Lucas Hernandez and Leroy Sane entered the fray.
Story of the match
Hertha exploded out of the blocks and pressed the rotated Bayern defence from the off. The ball zipped around off the snow-laden turf, which played into the hands of the hosts’ rapid front line. Dodi Lukebakio was presented with a golden opportunity to take an early lead, but his scuffed shot was easy pickings for the seasoned goalkeeper in Manuel Neuer.
Minutes later, Bayern were awarded a penalty after a wrong-footed Jarstein brought Sane to the ground. Bundesliga top scorer Lewandowski stepped up to plate and saw his spot-kick saved for the first time this season by the Norwegian glovesman.
Die Roten took the lead after 20 minutes through Kingsley Coman, having been in total control of the match since the squandered penalty. The 24-year-old drove towards goal and tried his luck from the edge of the box. Coman’s effort took a wicked deflection of the foot of the onrushing Niklas Stark, sending the ball looping over a hapless Jarstein and into the bottom corner via the underside of the crossbar.
Good value for their lead, Bayern looked to double their advantage before the break. Coman should have bagged his second of the night on the stroke of halftime when he gravitated towards a considerable patch of space in the centre of the box to await a pass from teammate Sane. After dancing past two defenders wide on the right, Sane hooked the ball back to the unmarked Frenchman; just to see his effort head for the back of the stands.
The opening 10 minutes of the second period were one-way traffic as Hansi Flick’s Bayern plundered the defence of die Alte Dame. The hosts required intervention from the forwards to keep the deficit down to one as they piled numbers behind the ball.
Deadline day signing Nemanja Radonjic made his Hertha debut just beyond the hour mark when he replaced misfiring Krzysztof Piatek. The Serbian’s substitution instilled a new lease of life in Dardai’s strikeforce, and within minutes he had the ball in the back of the net. Referee Robert Schroder waved off the celebrations as Lukebakio was adjudged to be offside in the build-up.
Shortly afterwards Hertha chased forward again, with Radonjic storming up the pitch alongside a cavalcade of Guendouzi, Lukebakio and Matheus Cunha. Following some neat work to elude the back-tracking defence, Radonjic laid off Guendouzi to his left, who took a wide berth to the byline before slipping on the snow and gifting possession to a relieved Neuer. The ever-petulant Cunha stood unmarked and unimpressed on the edge of the six-yard box.
The hosts finished the stronger of the two sides, and were left rueing their shortcomings when Cunha missed the opportunity of the game with two minutes left to play. Timing his run to perfection, the Brazilian broke through into a one-on-one with Neuer, but struck wide after attempting a fancy flick over the stranded goalkeeper.
Hertha sit clear of relegation on goal difference alone, six goals to the good over Arminia Bielefeld. It may not have been pretty, but Bayern’s three-point performance extends their lead at the top of the Bundesliga to 10 points.
Takeaway from the match
Bayern must not sit back
After taking the lead, Bayern noticeably sat back. Content with the assumption that the three points were sealed, they became slow and sloppy with their play and could be considered fortunate to not have paid the price. Hertha’s gutsy showing failed to render any goals, but had the visitors been faced with a free-scoring opponent, they could well have leaked on several occasions.
Bayern struggled to see out the 2-0 lead they once boasted in the reverse fixture back in October and were forced to resort to a last-gasp penalty to steal a 4-3 win.
Man of the match
Kingsley Coman – Bayern Munich
Although not one to write home about, Coman’s creative performance was the pick of a relatively bad bunch from the Bayern ranks. His goal wound up the winner, albeit by way of intervention from Stark.