Bayern Munich opened a three-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga on Friday with a 3-1 win at bottom side Greuther Fuerth despite being a man down for most of the second-half after Benjamin Pavard was sent off.
First-half goals by Thomas Mueller and Joshua Kimmich put Bayern 2-0 up before Pavard was shown a straight red card just three minutes into the second-half.
Fuerth midfielder Sebastian Griesbeck scored an own goal when he got his boot to the ball just ahead of Robert Lewandowski, who fell one match short of equalling Gerd Mueller’s record of scoring in 16 consecutive league games from 1969-’70.
The loudest cheer of the night came when the hosts grabbed a late consolation goal as replacement striker Cedric Itten scored to delight the sell-out 11,730-strong home crowd.
“It was not a brilliant performance, but we had the game under control even when we were a man down,” Bayern goal-scorer Kimmich told DAZN.
The result leaves Bayern clear in the table but closest rivals Wolfsburg can close the gap with a win at Hoffenheim on Saturday.
Fuerth count former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger as one of their most famous fans and head coach Stefan Leitl had called for “courage” against Bayern, who thrashed strugglers Bochum 7-0 last weekend.
The home defence was breached after just ten minutes at Fuerth’s Sportpark Ronhof when Bayern counter-attacked at speed down the left flank.
Alphonso Davies, who started on the left wing while Kingsley Coman recovers form heart surgery, whipped in a cross and Mueller hit the back of the net when his shot went in off the post from the edge of the area.
Kimmich netted the second goal with half an hour played when the central midfielder was allowed plenty of time to curl his shot inside the post and just around the outstretched arm of Fuerth goalkeeper Sascha Burchert.
Bayern spent most of the opening period camped in the Fuerth half as Leon Goretzka, Dayot Upamecano and Lewandowski, who clipped the crossbar, all went close.
The hosts rallied and Fuerth came within a whisker of pulling a goal back just before the break when midfielder Paul Seguin was agonisingly short of beating Manuel Neuer.
Pavard was sent off after he scythed down Fuerth’s US midfielder Julian Green, a former Bayern player.
Griesbeck’s own goal midway through the second half sealed Bayern’s away win when he lunged in to stop Lewandowski getting to the ball, but only succeeded in poking the ball over his own goal-line.
Fuerth’s consolation goal came when Itten headed in a cross three minutes from the final whistle.
Lewandowski just missed out on equalling another Gerd Mueller record having broken the Bayern legend’s milestone of 40 goals in a single season when the Poland striker finished with one more in 2020/21.