Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich will take a four-point lead into Tuesday’s top-of-the-table clash with Borussia Dortmund following an entertaining victory over Eintracht Frankfurt.
With Dortmund having narrowed the gap at the top to a single point earlier on Saturday, Bayern staged the perfect response, barring one three-minute period.
Leon Goretzka’s superb strike and a close-range Thomas Muller finish gave them a 2-0 half-time lead, which Robert Lewandowski added to with a header less than a minute into the second half.
But Frankfurt staged an unlikely fightback, scoring twice in three minutes through defender Martin Hinteregger – the first a mishit volley, the second a header from a corner.
However, any hopes the visitors had of a famous result were dashed when Alphonso Davies capitalised on a defensive mistake to make it 4-2 before Hinteregger bundled the ball over his own line following Serge Gnabry’s flick for Bayern’s fifth.
Struggling Frankfurt have now lost five Bundesliga games on the bounce courtesy of conceding five to Bayern for the second time this season.
A game that deserved a crowd
Bayern resumed their season following the two-month coronavirus shutdown with victory at Union Berlin last Sunday, and followed it up with this, their 16th win in 17 games in all competitions.
Usually home to 75,000 vociferous fans, the deserted Allianz Arena made for an odd and eerie backdrop to an otherwise typically vibrant and gripping Bayern home display.
The strict hygiene measures put in place on the first weekend of German top-flight football’s return were again present and correct – staggered warm-ups, coaching staff and substitutes wearing masks and all separated by two metres on the sidelines.
But while the Bayern players did their best to cheer their positive work, the goals and play leading up to them were deserving of greater appreciation in the stadium.
Goretzka’s finish was sublime, steered into the net with an opened boot following a neat ball from Muller.
Muller did what Muller does, slotting home after chesting the ball down to claim his 117th Bundesliga goal.
Lewandowski, ever the predator, looked to have finished the game as a contest before the second half had even hit its stride with a thumping header from Kingsley Coman’s cross.
Hinteregger’s two goals at the right end were as well taken as his goal at the wrong one was calamitous.
Davies utilised his pace and awareness to latch on to a misplaced pass from Gelson Fernandes and slot home to conclude a mad opening 15 minutes to the second half.
And there could easily have been more.
Lewandowski hit the bar with a shot and Benjamin Pavard saw a header from point-blank range saved with the game still goalless.
At the other end and later in the game, Manuel Neuer produced a superb block to prevent Mijat Gacinovic from making it 4-3, while Frankfurt’s Filip Kostic was very unlucky, hitting the inside of the post with a fierce shot following a super solo run.
An unexpected test then for Bayern, but one they may appreciate come Tuesday’s Der Klassiker – a game that could go a long way to deciding if Bayern continue their run of having won the Bundesliga every year since 2012-13.