LEIPZIG: Leon Goretzka’s first-half goal was enough to give Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich a crucial 1-0 victory at second-placed RB Leipzig on Saturday, as they opened up a seven-point lead at the top and edged closer to a ninth straight league crown.
Their fifth straight league win lifted Bayern, who face Paris St Germain in the Champions League quarter-finals on Wednesday, to 64 points.
Leipzig, in second place, are on 57 and have now all but written off their title chances with seven games remaining but Bayern coach Hansi Flick tried to keep his players grounded. “We will not say today that the season is over,” Flick said. “It was a good and important step. But we want to get maximum points from the last seven remaining matches.”
“It was a top game and Leipzig proved why they are up there. It was clear that in the second half they will try everything. They caused us problems but the attitude of my team was outstanding.”
The hosts were the better team and had some 60 percent possession in the first half but were far too wasteful with their finishing.
In contrast the Bavarians, without injured top scorer Robert Lewandowski, were brutally efficient to earn the three points after Goretzka fired in from Thomas Mueller’s 15th assist of the season for his third goal in the last four league matches.
No team has lost the title after leading by seven points after the 27th matchday.
“Bayern deserved the lead at halftime because of their brutal efficiency,” said Leipzig’s Head of Soccer Oliver Mintzlaff.
“Our aim remains to qualify for the Champions League. We will now focus on the last seven league games. We can still play the best season of our club history.”
The visitors had few chances, apart from a shot from Leroy Sane and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting’s header late in the first half, and survived a second-half siege as Leipzig squandered a quartet of golden opportunities in a powerful start after the break.
Neither Christopher Nkunku nor Dani Olmo and Marcel Sabitzer managed to hit the target though the latter did better on the hour with a long-range effort that forced Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer to make a fine save, tipping the ball over the bar.
Leipzig, who had won seven of their eight previous league games, however, could not find an equaliser even after coach Julian Nagelsmann brought on three strikers late in the game.