WOLFSBURG/Germany: Robert Lewandowski converted a 91st-minute penalty to rescue Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich with a 2-1 win at Wolfsburg on Saturday which took their winning streak to 13 and extended their advantage at the top of the table to 21 points.
With Bayern hosting Besiktas in the last 16, first-leg, of the Champions League on Tuesday, they rested several stars and were almost made to pay.
Wolfsburg striker Daniel Didavi gave the hosts an early lead while Bayern winger Arjen Robben had a second-half penalty saved.
However, Sandro Wagner headed Bayern level in the 64th minute before substitute Lewandowski hit the winning penalty in injury time.
The win extended Bayern’s runaway lead to 21 points as they steam towards a sixth straight title.
“This will to win games, even though it does not seem to be exciting at the top (of the table), makes it fun. This team is just so awesome,” said Bayern captain Thomas Mueller.
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes named a weakened team with David Alaba, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Joshua Kimmich, Mueller and Lewandowski started on the bench.
Wolfsburg profited from Bayern’s slow start after only eight minutes when Yunus Malli’s cross was headed home by Didavi.
Bayern winger Franck Ribery was then booked when the video referee spotted he had swatted Renato Steffen in the face in a challenge for the ball.
It was 1-0 at the break, but Bayern were awarded a penalty when Steffen barged over Corentin Tolisso in the area on 53 minutes.
Steffen was booked for his furious protest, but Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels palmed Robben’s spot kick onto the post.
Bayern drew level when Robben’s cross was met in the middle by Wagner — Lewandowski’s back-up — to head home on 64 minutes.
Heynckes responded by bringing on captain Mueller, Alaba and Lewandowski in the final half an hour.
When Germany Under-19 international Gian-Luca Itter pulled Robben back in the area, the referee pointed to the spot.
Casteels got a glove to the ball, but Lewandowski claimed his 20th league goal this season with the last-gasp spot kick.
Bailey strikes again
RB Leipzig are at Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga’s first Monday night kick-off which allowed Bayer Leverkusen to climb to second with a 2-1 win at Hamburg.
Leon Bailey continued his stellar season by rounding Hamburg’s goalkeeper Christian Mathenia on 40 minutes.
It was the 20-year-old Jamaican’s ninth league goal this season.
Leverkusen’s 18-year-old striker Kai Havertz doubled their lead after the break, finishing a move Bailey started.
Hamburg forward Andre Hahn came off the bench to claim a consolation goal.
Freiburg captain Nils Petersen converted a first-half penalty in their 1-0 win at home to Werder Bremen in persistent falling snow.
The win ended Freiburg’s three-match run without a win while Bremen stay just above the relegation places.
Bottom side Cologne remain nine points from safety as they drew 1-1 at home to Hanover.
Japan striker Yuya Osako gave Cologne an early lead before Hanover forward Niclas Fuellkrug equalised with his 10th league goal of the season.
In the dying stages, Claudio Pizarro, 39, came off the Cologne bench and had the ball in the net, but his header was ruled offside.
On Sunday, Borussia Dortmund can go second with a win at Borussia Moenchengladbach as Michy Batshuayi looks to add to his five goals in three games.