Hours Before Leaving For Qatar, Bayern Beats Hertha In Snowstorm
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BERLIN — Bayern Munich was unaffected by heavy snowfall and freezing temperatures as it beat host Hertha Berlin 1-0 to go 10 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga on Friday with its fifth consecutive league victory.
French winger Kingsley Coman scored the winner with a deflected shot from the edge of the box in the 21st minute, with the ball flying over goalkeeper Rune Jarstein, who had earlier saved a penalty from Robert Lewandowski.
Bayern is now on 48 points ahead of second-placed RB Leipzig, which travels to bottom side Schalke 04 on Saturday.
It was a successful dress rehearsal for Bayern, which is leaving for sunny Qatar and the Club World Cup later on Friday.
Bayern will face Egypt's Al Ahly in the semifinals on Monday as it looks to win its sixth trophy in less than 10 months and match Barcelona's tally from 2009.
"It will now be a good flight," Bayern coach Hansi Flick said. "We wanted to leave for Qatar with a win.
"It was at times difficult and we had to overcome some phases where we did not have possession. But we defended our 1-0 lead at the end and so I am satisfied," he said.
Hertha Berlin vs Bayern Munich Highlights
Hertha, without a win in its last six league games, looked far sharper in coach Pal Dardai's second game in charge and Dodi Lukebakio came agonisingly close after three minutes only to be denied by goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's foot.
The visitors responded with a chance of their own and Leroy Sané's effort was saved by Jarstein.
With the snowfall getting heavier the Hertha keeper brought Sane down in the box but quickly made amends, picking the right corner to block Lewandowski's 12th-minute spot kick, the first penalty miss for the Pole since January 2019.
Lewandowski, who has scored 24 times in his pursuit of Gerd Mueller's 40-goal league record from the 1971-72 season, had netted in the previous nine consecutive league games.
Thomas Mueller fed Coman for the winner almost 10 minutes later as the German became the first player in the league this season with double digits for goals and assists — 10 apiece.
Bayern kept up the pressure after the break and Serge Gnabry forced another good save from 36-year-old Jarstein.
The Norwegian keeper has now started both games since Dardai's return to Hertha.
The hosts had one last glorious chance to equalise a minute from the end when Matheus Cunha chipped the ball over Neuer but his effort went just wide of the goal.
Struggling Hertha is in 15th place on 17 points.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris)