Bayern Munich avoided falling further behind Bundesliga pacesetters Borussia Dortmund as they defeated struggling Stuttgart 4-1 in an entertaining contest at the Allianz Arena on Sunday.
Dortmund, who thrashed Hannover 5-1 on Saturday, began the weekend six points clear and that is how things remain after Bayern held off a spirited Stuttgart side to secure what ended up being a routine win.
Bayern enjoyed a flying start and had an early lead through Thiago Alcantara, but complacency soon set in and Stuttgart capitalised to go into half-time level – Anastasios Donis' gorgeous long-range effort doing the damage.
The frame of the goal was struck at both ends by Nicolas Gonzalez and Robert Lewandowski – the latter from a penalty – in the second period, but a Christian Gentner own goal had already restored Bayern's advantage.
Leon Goretzka and Lewandowski – making amends for his penalty miss – settled matters inside the final 20 minutes.
It was hardly vintage football from Bayern for the opener as Lewandowski accidentally nudged Thomas Muller's cross to the edge of the box with a poor first touch, and luckily Thiago was on hand to fire into the bottom-left corner.
But Bayern eased off after going ahead and paid the price in the 26th minute – Donis brilliantly finding the top-right corner from 25 yards.
Bayern looked refocused after the break and regained the lead – albeit fortuitously – just before the hour as Serge Gnabry's fiercely struck half-volley took a huge deflection off Gentner and found the net.
A manic period followed, with Gonzalez's shot ricocheting off Manuel Neuer and then himself before hitting the post.
And Lewandowski followed suit, seeing his spot-kick strike the upright after he had been tripped by Marc-Oliver Kempf.
But Goretzka headed Bayern into a 3-1 lead in the 71st minute after meeting Joshua Kimmich's delivery, and Lewandowski rounded things off six minutes from the end, coolly taking it past Ron-Robert Zieler and finishing with aplomb.
What does it mean? Bayern not going away
Dortmund's win on Saturday saw them set a new club record of 48 points after 19 Bundesliga matches in a single season. They certainly mean business, but as Bayern chalked up a seventh successive league win, Kovac's men look like they will be pushing them all the way.
Thiago the conductor
Not only did he get the opening goal, Spain international Thiago was exceptional in midfield, with most of Bayern's attacks going through him.
Kempf hapless at the back
It is never easy to face Bayern and Lewandowski, but the task is made all the more difficult when your centre-back endures an underwhelming day, which was summed up by Kempf's concession of a penalty. Luckily for him, it was missed.
Bayern will be expecting another tough contest on Saturday when they travel to Bayer Leverkusen, while Stuttgart host Freiburg the next day.
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