They may not have been at their free-scoring best, but FC Bayern Munich produced a professional display to see off newly-promoted Eintracht Frankfurt winning 2-0 at the Allianz Arena. Franck Ribery broke Frankfurt's brave resistance shortly before half-time, and a second-half penalty from David Alaba settled the result.
Bayern had gone into the game on the back of Wednesday's monstrous 6-1 hammering of LOSC Lille in the UEFA Champions League. The opening exchanges of this game, however, quickly made it clear that there would no such repeat of that game. Armin Veh's Frankfurt team were competitive from the first whistle, with captain Pirmin Schwegler leading by example by throwing himself into more than one full-blooded challenge.
Unsurprisingly it was Bayern that created the first clear-cut opening of the game as Arjen Robben was released by Toni Kroos' clever pass, but the Dutchman's rather patchy form in front of goal continued as he could only shoot wide from an admittedly tight angle.
Eintracht showed no signs of caving in before a packed out Allianz though, and they soon enjoyed their first threat on goal. Stefan Aigner scored seven times on this ground for 1860 Munich last season, and the former Lion was almost at it again, as he directed a header over the bar from a good position.
One of the league's standout players this season has been Toni Kroos and Bayern's Germany international, recalled to the starting eleven, was seeing plenty of the ball and creating scoring chances for his side. Kroos was involved in one move in which Ribery was inches away from giving his side the lead. The Frenchman's deflected shot was tipped wide by Frankfurt's Kevin Trapp, moments after the keeper had pulled off another smart save to keep out Alaba's swerving free-kick.
It had been a valiant effort from the away side and what head coach Veh would have given for his side's defence to remain intact until half-time. It wasn't to be however, as Bayern went in front with a goal that demonstrated tenacity, quality and patience all in one go.
Alaba started the move in his own half, embarking on a storming run past three players. He then slipped in Martinez, who had timed his run perfectly to beat the offside trap, and the Spanish international went a little way to repaying the EUR40 million sum paid for him by having the presence of mind to pick out Ribery for a simple far-post tap-in.
Not only was it the perfect time to score for Bayern, but they had also struck the first goal. Kroos went close to a quick-fire second before the half-time whistle was blown, but the two coaches' respective team talks were now markedly different, as the Reds now had the upper hand.
In the second period, Jupp Heynckes' men were dominant in possession and their back four was receiving good cover from Martinez and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Claudio Pizarro, keeping his place in the team after his hat-trick against Lille, was relatively quiet. The threat was coming from all angles for Bayern though, especially the dangerous Ribery, who fizzed an angle drive wide.
Not discouraged however, Eintracht still managed to create opportunities. One excellent corner ended with Bamba Anderson glancing a header onto the bar, a timely reminder for the hosts that the result remained in the balance.
It was a warning that they heeded as they made it 2-0 on the break, effectively killing off the Frankfurt challenge. Ribery raced clear and switched the play to the onrushing Schweinsteiger and, as he charged into the box, he was judged to have been felled by Vadim Demidov, which resulted in a spot-kick.
Somewhat surprisingly it was Alaba that was given the job of converting the penalty, which he did low to Trapp's left, netting his first Bundesliga goal in over a year. With a two-goal deficit to make up, Veh's men finally looked a beaten side, and Trapp had to brilliantly thwart Ribery and then Robben in the dying minutes to keep the scoreline at 2-0.
The result just about reflected the pattern of a match in which Bayern had been in the ascendancy for long periods. They have now responded in the best way possible to the defeat against Leverkusen a fortnight ago, and enjoy a seven-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga table.
For Frankfurt, this was a defeat - just their third in the league all season - that will not dishearten them for long. They matched their more illustrious opponents for decent spells in the game, and had they scored the first goal, may have been celebrating a different result. Bayern will have fewer home matches as tough as this, and still less against the other newly-promoted sides.
Bayern Munich: Neuer - Lahm, Boateng (32' van Buyten), Dante, Alaba - Javi Martinez, Schweinsteiger - Robben, Kroos (71' Tymoshchuk), Ribery - Pizarro (58' Müller)
Eintracht Frankfurt: Trapp - S. Jung, Demidov, Anderson, Oczipka - Schwegler (83' Lanig), Rode - Aigner (58' Occean), Meier, Inui - Matmour
Goals: 1-0 Ribery (44'), 2-0 Alaba (77' pen.)
Referee: Marco Fritz