BERLIN: Robert Lewandowski missed a penalty but a deflected effort from Kingsley Coman helped Bayern Munich eke out a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga on Friday.
Bayern stretched their winning run in the league to five games, while Hertha remained in relegation trouble with just one point from their last six games.
New signings Sami Khedira and Nemanja Radonji went on in the second half to make their Hertha debuts, but the home side were left to rue a late missed chance from Matheus Cunha when he had only Manuel Neuer to beat. The Brazilians chip over the Bayern goalkeeper drifted to the right of the unguarded net and wide.
Hertha toiled and made life difficult for the eight-time defending champions amid heavy snowfall.
Dodi Lukebakio beat the offside trap but failed to beat Neuer with the first big chance in the third minute.
Leroy San then failed to beat Herthas Rune Jarstein from a similar position at the other end.
Jarstein conceded the penalty for a late challenge on San. But the Norwegian atoned by saving Lewandowski’s effort in the 11th.
Jarstein became only the second goalkeeper to save a penalty from the Poland star in the Bundesliga since Neuer in 2013, when Lewandowski was playing for Borussia Dortmund.
It was a rare miss for Lewandowski, who scored his previous 11 penalties, and scored in his last nine league games. Lewandowski already has 24 goals in the Bundesliga this season.
Fortunately for the visitors, Coman broke the deadlock in the 21st when Niklas Stark’s attempted block looped the ball over Jarstein and in off the underside of the crossbar.
Hertha coach Pl Drdai gave a wry smile on the sideline.
Both sides had further chances as the snow continued to fall. Hertha defender Jordan Torunarigha had to go off with a hip injury before the break.
Serbian winger Radonji came on in the 63rd and promptly wasted a good chance. He was foiled by Neuer late on but made a good impression on his debut.
Khedira came on in the 81st to make his Bundesliga comeback after 10 seasons away with Real Madrid and Juventus. The former Germany midfielder’s only notable contribution was a booking for arguing with a linesman.
“I know that I need training sessions, that I need playing time and that I won’t come here and play 90 minutes from the start. The coach decides,” Khedira said. He hadn’t played at all since last June.
“It’s a nice feeling to be needed again,” he said.
Kickoff was brought forward by half an hour to facilitate Bayern’s departure for Qatar, where they have a Club World Cup semi-final against Egyptian champions Al Ahly on Monday.
“We wanted to go to Qatar with a victory,” Bayern coach Hansi Flick said. “Now it’ll be a nice flight.”
Published in Dawn, February 7th, 2021