Bayern Munich increased their lead at the top of the Bundesliga with three points at Hamburg on the first matchday of 2016. The Bavarians edged out Hamburg courtesy of two goals from Robert Lewandowski.
Hamburg 1-2 Bayern Munich
(Alonso 52' O.G., Lewandowski 37' pen, 61')
Bayern Munich marked the return of the Bundesliga with a narrow 2-1 win over Hamburg. Robert Lewandowski bagged both goals to hit a record of 17 for the campaign and keep the German champions on track for a fourth successive league title.
Bayern's Polish hitman opened the scoring from the penalty spot on 37 minutes, but the match was tied by Xabi Alonso's own goal early in the second half. Lewandowski, taking his tally to 25 overall for the season, was on hand to turn home a shot from Thomas Müller and open up an 11-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga.
Bruno Labbadia, the Hamburg coach whose contracted was extended this winter, was without Emir Spahic who had picked up an injury, but was able to call on the services of Pierre-Michel Lasogga and Johan Djourou. Meanwhile, Bayern's starting eleven for the New Year included Holger Badstuber, the German center-back who has spent most of his early career on the treatment table.
Hamburg was compact and tight in the opening exchanges and managed to limit Bayern's four-man attack. Aaron Hunt was the first player to direct a shot on goal, charging upfield on the counterattack and deciding to take the strike from 30 yards out. Eight minutes later, Dennis Diekmeier was the outball on the right-flank, his shot flashing wide of the post from around 20 yards.
Lewandowski on form
But the match turned on 37 minutes when referee Felix Zwayer awarded Bayern a penalty kick for a late challenge on Müller. The Bayern striker clipped the ball clear - the effort was already off target - but was brought down recklessly by Hamburg goalie Rene Adler. Lewandowski dispatched the kick and collected his 16th league goal of the season.
Müller threatened once again on 41 minutes with a flashing header which went past Adler's post. However, broken up with plenty of fouls, the game was lacking flow and the half ended with a narrow advantage to the German champions.
The five minutes after the restart was certainly Bayern's most incisive of the game. Kingsley Coman moved across to the right-side where he gave Matthias Ostrzolek a torrid time early on. The Frenchman slid past the full-back and shot on target in the first minute of the half. Two minutes later, Douglas Costa's powerful half-volley was lifted just an inch-or-two too high of the crossbar. Lewandowski and Thiago came close before Hamburg pounced upon Bayern's complacency.
It was, indeed, a horrible 60 seconds for Xabi Alonso. He conceded possession and then fouled Ivo Ilicevic needlessly with Hamburg struggling to get men in support of the forward. Hunt's free-kick was inswinging and asking for a touch, which came from the boot of the Spanish midfielder who was in a tussle with Lasogga in front of goal. The ball crashed into the net and Hamburg were level.
But the luck was on Bayern's side as Lewandowski fired the visitors back in front on the hour mark, although he knew very little of Müller's shot which careered against his leg and wrong-footed Adler. David Alaba's dipping free-kick beat the Hamburg goalkeeper, but not the woodwork less than five minutes later.
As soon as Bayern had the cushion in the second period, Labbadia's men struggled to gain a foothold. Hamburg had one-or-two promising situations towards the end, but Bayern held on to extend the club's unbeaten run against Hamburg to 15 matches.