Bayern Munich returned to winning ways with a 3-1 victory Saturday over Hannover to move six points clear in the Bundesliga.
After suffering their first defeat under Jupp Heynckes at Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend, Arturo Vidal headed Bayern into the lead in the 17th minute before Sven Ulreich brilliantly saved a twice-taken penalty from Hannover's Niclas Fullkrug some 10 minutes later.
Charlison Benschop glanced in a deserved equaliser for the visitors on 35 minutes before Kingsley Coman restored the lead from the angle in the 66th and 20 minutes later earned the penalty which Robert Lewandowski coolly converted from the spot to put the result beyond doubt.
Bayern stretched their lead over Leipzig to six points, well on course to their sixth consecutive Bundesliga title. The injury-ravaged league leaders did welcome back Coman, Thomas Muller and Rafinha, while David Alaba and Franck Ribery both came on as substitutes. Good news with PSG looming on Tuesday.
Bayern could easily have conceded more than one in a sloppy first-half performance and will need to raise their game against PSG.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Heynckes took his tally to 10 wins in 11 games since his return for a fourth spell against the club where he spent three years as an inexperienced striker in 1967-70. Blimey, that is 50 years ago!
Player ratings (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Sven Ulreich, 7 -- Brilliantly saved a retaken penalty to keep Bayern's lead intact, although he had given away the spot kick for a foul on Felix Klaus. Some suggested that Ulreich was lucky to escape with a yellow card for the offence.
DF Rafinha, 6 -- The Brazil international filled in at left-back, proving his versatility once again.
DF Mats Hummels, 6 -- Much better in the second half and will need to maintain that high standard against Neymar & Co. on Tuesday.
DF Jerome Boateng, 6 -- As with his Germany teammate Hummels, seriously felt the heat in the first half and will need to step up his performance levels when speedster Kylian Mbappe comes calling.
DF Joshua Kimmich, 7 -- Solid up and down the right flank all day, supplying the normal barrage of quality crosses.
MF Javi Martinez, 5 -- Laboured for long periods and was brought off just prior the hour mark with the PSG game in mind.
MF Arturo Vidal, 8 -- Enjoyed a team-best seven shots on goal, threatening the Hannover goal from the whistle and hitting the post early before nodding home the opener. "Revidalised," the combative Chile international has now scored in three consecutive Bundesliga games.
MF Kingsley Coman, 9 -- In what Heynckes called a "magnificent performance," Coman scored the go-ahead goal and won the penalty which put the game to bed. In prime form, ready for the visit of former club PSG, having joined the academy aged 9 and broken into the first team under Carlo Ancelotti in 2013.
MF James Rodriguez, 7 -- The Colombia playmaker enjoyed a quiet opening period but came to the fore in the second half, firing two vicious drives narrowly over with his potent left foot. Had the most touches of the ball (121) of any Bayern player.
MF Thomas Muller, 7 -- A couple of nice assists but it will remain a mystery how Muller failed to score on his comeback from injury after six weeks. He fired directly at overworked Hannover keeper Philipp Tschauner and knocked an excellent opportunity past the post on the half-hour when clean through. Another brilliant reflex save from the goalkeeper denied Muller again before half-time, diverting a goal-bound header onto the crossbar from inside the 6-yard box. The captain let frustration get the better of him on the hour mark, picking up a yellow card for a shirt pull and Heynckes removed him from the fray with 10 minutes remaining.
FW Robert Lewandowski, 7 -- Saw a goal chalked off by VAR for offside by the narrowest of margins and was denied repeatedly by Tschauner before getting his reward from the penalty spot in the final minutes, grabbing his 14th Bundesliga goal this season.
MF Corentin Tolisso, 6 -- Bayern's record signing replaced the laborious Martinez and soon brought out the best in Tschauner with a neat header.
DF David Alaba, N/R -- Finally overcome a sciatic nerve problem, replacing Muller for the final 10 minutes. The Austria defender will likely start against PSG.
MF Franck Ribery, N/R -- Returned following a two-month injury break, coming on for his youthful compatriot Coman for the final seconds.