Bayern Munich were guilty of overplaying in attack as they laboured to increase their lead at the top of the Bundesliga to 18 points, with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Schalke 04.
The Royal Blues were hoping to cause an upset at the Allianz Arena and return to the top four in the league table. However, first-half goals from Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller proved to be too much for Domenico Tedesco’s side to recover from.
Bayern’s manager, Jupp Heynckes, was forced to watch the game from home after coming down with the flu – leaving his assistant, Peter Hermann, in charge in Bavaria.
Schalke started on the front foot and Breel Embolo saw an early effort kept out by Sven Ulreich after Bayern were caught napping on the counter-attack.
However, Schalke were soon made to pay for their wasted opportunity when Robert Lewandowski pounced on a mistake from Ralf Fährmann to put the hosts in front with just six minutes on the clock.
Thilo Kehrer and Alessandro Schöpf looked to respond quickly but were unable to test Ulreich.
The Royal Blues weren’t able to register their next shot on target until the half-hour mark, however, Franco Di Santo’s effort flew into the back of the net.
After Bayern’s future employee Leon Goretzka turned defence into attack with a surging run, the ball ended up at the feet of Schalke’s Argentine forward and Di Santo’s first-time strike was well placed to cancel out Lewandowski’s opener.
However, Bayern’s lead was soon restored when Thomas Müller fired a ball across the face of goal that fortuitously caught Fährmann out at his near post, giving the advantage back to Bayern as both sides went in at the break.
Guido Burgstaller softly went down in a desperate attempt to win Schalke a penalty at the start of the second-half, with the Royal Blues not registering their first shot since half-time until the 70-minute mark.
Benjamin Stambouli prevented Robert Lewandowski from making it 3-1 with an outstanding last-ditch tackle but the visitors struggled to show the same quality going forward – even with the introduction of Amine Harit, Bastian Oczipka and Yevhen Konoplyanka.
The returning Javi Martínez saw a speculative effort deflect just wide of the goal as Bayern looked to secure all three points in the last few minutes of the game, with Kingsley Coman also coming close to finding the back of the net.
Despite being unable to put the icing on the cake, Bayern Munich kept Schalke at bay and held on for the win. Attentions now turn to a trip to Wolfsburg next week before Turkish giants Be?ikta? are welcomed to Bavaria when Champions League football returns.