Bayern Munich 1 Eintracht Frankfurt 0: Ribery stunner proves enough
A stunning strike from Franck Ribery proved decisive as Bayern Munich overcame relegation-threatened Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0 at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.
Ribery beat Frankfurt goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky with a sensational overhead kick from the edge of the box to secure his team the win, ensuring their five-point advantage over Borussia Dortmund at the Bundesliga summit will, at the very least, remain intact this weekend.
Ahead of the clash the Frenchman spoke of his desire to continue proving his value to the club as he approaches his 33rd birthday, and he took full advantage of the opportunity to do just that with Douglas Costa on the bench and Kingsley Coman absent due to a slight muscle injury.
Ribery - who scored his first goal for the club since December - was a constant thorn in the side of Frankfurt’s defence, and the visitors, who ended a run of eight matches without a win by beating Hannover 1-0 last time out, never really looked like getting something from the game.
The margin of the Bavarian side’s victory could have been greater, but Xabi Alonso was denied a goal on his 50th Bundesliga appearance when his free-kick came back off the crossbar in the second half.
Frankfurt coach Niko Kovac was unable to mastermind a comeback against his former club as Bayern saw out the win to put pressure on Dortmund, who entertain Werder Bremen later on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola’s team were on top from the off as they quickly monopolised possession.
Robert Lewandowski headed wide early on and Mario Gotze arrived too late to add a meaningful touch to Ribery’s ball across the face of goal in the 15th minute, but it did not take much longer for Bayern to make the breakthrough.
The Frankfurt defence invited Gotze to dribble forward and his shot from 20 yards was kept out by the legs of Hradecky, but the ball fell for Ribery, who looped an acrobatic effort beyond the goalkeeper from the edge of the box with 20 minutes on the clock.
Ribery continued to wreak havoc on the left wing and Bastian Oczipka’s crucial interception stopped him from setting up Gotze for a tap-in following a swift break.
Frankfurt eventually restricted Bayern’s opportunities, and Lewandowski and David Abraham were involved in a fiery confrontation before half-time that resulted in yellow cards for the pair.
After Szabolcs Huszti fired wide for the visitors just 18 seconds after the restart, Bayern soon reasserted themselves.
In the 52nd minute, Alonso came close to doubling their lead when his 25-yard free-kick bounced down off the bar and away from goal.
Some impressive keeping from Hradecky ensured just one goal remained between the two sides.
The Finland international used his legs to divert Juan Bernat’s effort from the left-hand side of the box away from goal, before a diving save kept a curling 20-yard strike from Alonso out of the top corner.
Frankfurt substitute Sonny Kittel rifled an effort just over the top-left corner before Thomas Muller was denied by Hradecky in the 90th minute, but Manuel Neuer saw out his 150th top-flight clean sheet as Bayern took another step towards a fourth successive Bundesliga title.
Key Opta stats:
- Bayern Munich have won their last 14 league games immediately following an international break.
- Bayern managed a clean sheet in each of the last eight Bundesliga matches versus Eintracht Frankfurt (757 minutes without conceding a goal), setting a new BL record.
- Only Robert Lewandowski fired more shots (6) than Mario Gotze (4), who had the most Intensive runs of all Bayern players (90).