A second half Javi Martinez header was enough for Bayern Munich to see off a stubborn Hertha Berlin side. Despite a second straight clean sheet, an injury to Kingsley Coman takes some of the gloss off Bayern's win.
Bayern Munich 1 - 0 Hertha Berlin
(Martinez 62' - Rekik s/o 83')
Javi Martinez' header eventually broke down Hertha Berlin to move Bayern Munich level on points with Borussia Dortmund at the Bundesliga’s summit. But an injury to substitute Kingsley Coman meant it wasn’t all good news for the Bavarians.
The Spaniard beat Hertha keeper Rune Jarstein to James Rodriguez’ corner just after the hour mark to nod in and break a deadlock that, for long spells, looked set to remain.
The visitors, who beat Bayern back in September, had the better chances of an even first half, with Davie Selke seeing a strike ruled out for offside and Salomon Kalou’s effort cleared off the line as Bayern were restricted to long range pot shots.
Thiago replaced Leon Goretzka at halftime and the champions started to put more pressure on their visitors, without creating too many clear cut chances. The breakthrough finally came after Jarstein’s misjudgement but just seven minutes later, Bayern’s spirits took a knock when Coman came off clutching his hamstring.
The French winger pulled up after a routine dribble and layoff and may well be a doubt for Bayern’s Champions League second leg clash with Liverpool on March 13. Coman only returned from a serious ankle injury in January.
After chasing the ball for much of the second half, Hertha couldn’t summon the energy to mount much of a comeback and Karim Rekik’s late dismissal after a clash with Robert Lewandowski made for a comfortable last 10 minutes for Bayern.
As it happened
FULL TIME: The whistle blows. Not the most convincing from Bayern but it's three points. Our match report will be along shortly.
90+4 - Neuer now out to claim a cross from deep and that is almost that.
90+2 - Lustenberger has a crack from the edge of the box but Neuer is behind it.
90' - There will be four minutes added on. James is booked for trying to eat in to that time while standing over a corner, which is cleared.
89' - Hertha load one in towards Selke, who thinks he was fouled. His coach thinks the same, but the referee doesn't.
86' - Müller is almost in from the rebound of the resulting freekick but he can't convert.
84' - Red card! Rekik is sent off after a clash with Lewandowski. The Dutch defender got in a tangle with the Bayern striker and they both went to ground. As they got up, the pair moved towards each other and Rekik threw an arm around Lewandowski's head. His was perhaps a little more emphatic but there seemed aggressive intent on both sides there.
79' - Double substitution for the visitors as Pal Dardai throws on his son Palko Dardai and Dennis Jastrzembski for Kalou and Maier.
76' - Bayern really starting to turn the screw now, Hertha can't get out of their own half. Thiago is the latest to have a crack but it's speculative and sails over the bar.
73' - Some nice stuff from Bayern, who work the ball around a little before James lifts a ball in to Alaba. It's a touch behind him and his header is easy for Jarstein.
71' - It seems Coman tweaked something in laying off the ball to Alaba (see 65'). There was no challenge, he didn't seem to hyper-extend but he seemingly felt something straight away. Any hamstring injury must make him a doubt for the second leg against Liverpool. He was only on the pitch for nine minutes.
67' - That's it for Coman, who is holding his hamstring now and is to be replaced by Müller. That's a huge blow for Bayern and for the Frenchman, who has missed so much football this season already.
66' - Coman is down holding his right leg, his teammates look concerned, as does Niko Kovac.
65' - Coman dances down the left before laying it off to Alaba on the edge of the box. The Austrian lets fly but it's miles over.
62' - GOAL! I may have spoken too soon about Jarstein... The keeper comes out looking to punch clear yet another corner but misjudges it allowing Javi Martinez to get there first and head in to an empty net. A really soft goal to concede for Pal Dardai's men.
60' - Jarstein is off his line again to punch clear another Bayern corner, the Hertha keeper has been excellent today despite not having too many alarms. As the ball comes back in, Lewandowski goes to ground and wants a penalty, but there doesn't appear to be a whole lot there.
58' - Bayern make their second change and it's a predictable one. Ribery off, Coman on.
57' - CHANCE! Brilliant combination between Duda and Selke again, and the German striker is in. He rolls a finish past Neuer but Kimmich screams back to prevent it from rolling in. That's the second time Bayern have cleared off the line today.
55' - Hertha have their first meaningful attack of the half as Lazaro is worked in to space before his low cross is cleared for a corner. A Hertha head wins it but it screws well wide. Kalou should keep it in but his first touch takes it out of play.
53' - The camera cuts to a pigeon pecking away at the pitch. It's been that kind of game.
51' - Kimmich is the first man in the book after leading with his studs in a challenge on Duda and getting none of the ball. Not his finest moment.
50' - Rekik throws himself to ground and just gets enough on it to stop Gnabry in his tracks and concede a corner. It comes to nothing but this is a much brighter start from Bayern.
47' - CHANCE! This is an absolutely brilliant clearing header. Kimmich had the run on Mittelstädt to reach a floated cross at the back post with Jarstein beaten but the Hertha man did brilliantly to flick it out for a corner, which Hertha scrambled away.
46' - Bit of a shake up for Bayern at the break with Niko Kovac throwing on Thiago in place of Goretzka, who had a quiet half. It surely won't be long before we see Coman if this half is anything like the first.
HALF TIME: That's it for the first 45 of a pretty even contest. Davie Selke had a goal ruled out for offside for the visitors while Salomon Kalou also went close. Bayern have only really threatened from the edge of the box, having failed to really get behind their opponents so far. Plenty for Niko Kovac to think about.
44' - Bayern have favored the left hand side so far and they come again down that flank. Alaba is almost on to Lewandowski's pass but it's slightly overhit and he's squeezed out. Jarstein takes a commanding catch from the corner, exactly what his defenders and his coach will want just before the break.
42' - This display has had a few hallmarks of the Bayern of the autumn so far. The champions look a little slow in possession and only Gnabry really has genuine acceleration with Coman on the bench. Hertha are well organized and have also asked a few questions themselves.
39' - Maier has a crack under pressure from 25 yards but it flies over.
38' - Oof. Almost. Lewandowski drops deep to pick it up this time and weights a through ball towards Ribery, who is flyig down the left. But Lazaro just reads it in time and cuts off the danger.
36' - Lewandowski, who has been quiet, lies in a crumpled heap after a firm but not unreasonable challenge from Lustenberger. He'll be fine but there's a brief break in play. Freiburg are now 2-0 up by the way, Vincenzo Grifo adding the second,
32' - Stark brings an end to the most recent of the numerous Ribery - Alaba exchanges with a foul on the Frenchman, but Hertha clear. The ball is recycled and Ribery pops up at the back post, he gets a shot off as the ball bounces around but it's straight at Jarstein. The flag was up anyway.
28' - CHANCE! Gnabry gives the ball away high up the pitch and Hertha break rapidly. They shovel it to Kalou, who exchanges passes with a teammate on the edge of the box and is one-on-one with Neuer. The Ivorian is a little wide but gets off a goal-bound effort that Boateng gets back to hack off the line.
25' - Lewandowski does brilliantly to slip away from Lustenberger on the halfway line but then dwells on it and allows the Swiss midfielder to get back and nick the ball. It's just a little ponderous from Bayern in the final third so far.
22' - Gnabry cuts in from the right and drives an effort at goal but it's a comfortable save for Jarstein. Elsewhere, Karim Onisiwo has given Mainz the lead over Schalke and a Nils Petersen strike has put Freiburg ahead against Augsburg.
20' - Selke does brilliantly to hold the ball up against two opponents and start a spell of possession for Hertha. The Berliners needed that, Bayern have turned up the tempo in the last few minutes.
15' - CHANCE! Kimmich drives forward through the center of the pitch with options left and right. But no-one closes him down so the right back has a pop. It's a decent strike but he drags it just wide. Moments later Lewandowski gets up to win a header at the back post, but it's straight at Jarstein. Bayern have woken up a bit.
11' - Hertha have the ball in the net but do not lead. Lovely stuff from Duda, who holds off a challenge and gets it out of his feet to feed Selke. The in-form German striker rounds Neuer and strokes home but he was half a yard offside. Encouraging signs for Hertha who have at least matched the hosts so far.
8' - Neuer floats a pass straight to Lazaro but Hertha can't take advantage of the error.
6' - Bayern have their first spell of sustained possession and Ribery and Alaba combine to win a corner, which Jarstein flies out to punch clear.
4' - The corner was cleared and then lifted back in to the box, where Kalou almost got a toe to it, but was adjudged offside. Decent start from the visitors.
2' - Kimmich, extravagantly mustachioed, brings down his man on the right giving Hertha an early dead ball situation. Duda'S ball is whipped nicely and flicked behid for a corner.
1' - And we're off. Hertha get the ball rolling.
15:25 - The wait is nearly over. The players are in the tunnel ready to go.
15:20 - Just looking at Bayern's lineup again, is there an argument that they're a little one-paced. Only Serge Gnabry is genuinely rapid, with Coman having a rest. Perhaps a risk against a Hertha side who are comfortable sitting deep.
15:15 - Three other 15:30 kickoffs in the Bundesliga today - Borussia Mönchengladbach, who sit third, host Wolfsburg, Schalke travel to Mainz and Freiburg host Augsburg. The late game sees the two promoted clubs - Fortuna Düsseldorf and Nuremberg - battle it out. You've still got a bit of time to check out our interview with Düsseldorf's veteran coach Friedhelm Funkel, a fascinating bloke.
15:10 – The teams are in and Berlin-born Jerome Boateng replaces the unwell Mats Hummels at the heart of Bayern’s defense. Thiago and Kingsley Coman drop to the bench as Leon Goretzka returns in midfield. Thomas Müller is on the bench for Bayern for the fourth match in a row.
Hertha’s line up contains few surprises with the blossoming attacking partnership between Ondrej Duda and Davie Selke a genuine threat to a Bayern side who haven’t kept a clean sheet in the league since just before Christmas.
15:00 - Hello, and welcome to our coverage of Bayern Munich vs. Hertha Berlin. Buoyed by a disciplined display at Anfield, Bayern Munich come in to today's game with Borussia Dortmund within their sights. With BVB playing tomorrow, the champions could go top today, though they'd need to win by at least seven goals.
But Hertha are a side who can make life difficult for the big boys, they beat Bayern 2-0 at the Olympia Stadion in September and took a point off Dortmund at Signal Iduna Park in October. Niko Kovac will want to turn up the heat on an inexperienced Dortmund side but could Bayern potentially suffer from a European hangover. We'll see.