Schalke 04 0-2 Bayern Munich: Brave Blues undone in gritty win for the champions

Robert Lewandowski's late strike was enough for all three points on Friday night, though the hosts were deserving of more.

Schalke 04 0-2 Bayern Munich: Brave Blues undone in gritty win for the champions
Schalke battled bravely on Friday night, but Bayern bagged the points. (Photo: FC Schalke 04)
Schalke 04
0 2
Bayern Munich
Schalke 04: (4-2-3-1): Fährmann; Höwedes, Naldo, Nastasic, Baba; Stambouli (Kolasinac 86'), Bentaleb; Konoplyanka (Embolo 55'), Goretzka, Choupo-Moting; Huntelaar (Meyer 67').
Bayern Munich: Neuer; Lahm, Javi Martinez, Hummels, Alaba; Thiago, Alonso (Vidal 61'), Renato Sanches (Kimmich 71'); Müller, Lewandowski, Ribéry (Douglas Costa 61').
SCORE: 0-1, Lewandowski 82'. 0-2, Kimmich 92'.
REFEREE: Manuel Gräfe (Berlin). Booked: Hummels 17', Höwedes 38', Renato Sanches 69', Vidal 71', Thiago 91', Baba 91'.

The Bundesliga's Friday night fixture was expected to be straight-forward; a Bayern Munich win, and a comfortable one.

The champions did go back to Bavaria with the three points, but the manner in which they recorded them was far from routine.

An impressive display from Schalke 04 was so close to providing them with the perfect result to bounce back, but the smallest of margins went against the home side as Carlo Ancelotti's men instead emerged victorious.

Brave Blues

The champions have won 50 of their 96 encounters with Schalke, to the Royal Blues' 19, but change aplenty for the hosts over the summer translated into bravery and fearlessness at the Veltins-Arena.

With many of Schalke's summer recruits new to the challenge presented by Germany's top dog, the default cowardice often reverted to by the majority of Bayern's opposition was absent, and it made for great viewing.

Add to this the desire to bounce back from a disappointing defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt last week - the result of which meant many changes for this outing - and the presence of the plucky and creative Leon Goreztka, and the performance the home fans got was certainly bold.

Eric Choupo-Moting was similarly valiant throughout, while the lionhearted Naldo led the back line superbly as Bayern were afforded just the one half chance in the first half - Robert Lewandowski scuffing his shot from a cross harmlessly wide.

Allowing their visitors no time or space on the ball as they pressed, pressed, pressed; bravery spread like a disease through the Schalke side as Abdul Baba Rahman stormed forward just before the interval.

After ghosting past three opponents, he passed the baton to Yevhen Konoplyanka, who skipped past Mats Hummels with incredible ease. However, a combination of Manuel Neuer and David Alaba somewhat kept the Ukraine international and Klaas Jan-Huntelaar at bay - and desperately, at that.

Schalke inches away from a deserved lead

Half time could have gone a number of ways. It could have acted as the rest Schalke needed to continue their hard-working performance; it could have acted as an interruption in their impressive performance; or it could have acted as a chance for Bayern to regroup and help them improve in the second half.

It seemed to go the latter way to start, with Bayern settling nicely and putting Schalke under considerable pressure. However, it proved to be just a brief dominant period from which the hosts emerged strongly.

Markus Weinzierl opted for some fresh legs before the hour, and it was substitute Breel Embolo whose run distracted the Bayern defence moments later as Huntelaar's beautifully-struck effort cannoned off of Neuer's crossbar.

As always, Bayern emerge victorious

Fresh legs worked just the same for Bayern and Ancelotti though, and a trio of substitutions ahead of the game's final 20 minutes allowed the visitors to really put the pressure on.

One of those changes, Douglas Costa, should have broken the deadlock too after another substitute - Arturo Vidal - teed him up. However, he couldn't keep his composure as he fired high and wide from the edge of the box.

Moments later, the best chance of the game fell to the most prolific man on the pitch, but Lewandowski could only grimace as Costa's cross simply hit him and bounced over an open goal from a couple of yards out.

However, he would make amends as the champions did as champions do and ground out the win. Javi Martinez supplied a lovely through ball and Lewandowski made no mistake as he raced onto it, finishing emphatically into the top corner with 82 minutes on the clock.

The forward could have added a second even later on, and he really should have, but instead he would set up Joshua Kimmich to do so in stoppage time as Bayern clinched the win despite being far from their best.

The game will give Ancelotti food for thought though, as well as managers around Germany after Schalke's game plan provided the basics of a perfect blueprint for how to beat Bayern.