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Bayern Munich move closer to Bundesliga title after beating Hertha Berlin

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Bayern Munich expanded its lead in the Bundesliga table with a victory over Berlin, while giving several of its key players some much needed rest ahead of their Champions League semifinal match against Atletico Madrid.

Serdar Tasci stays one step ahead of a masked Vedad Ibišević
Serdar Tasci stays one step ahead of a masked Vedad Ibišević
Boris Streubel/Getty Images

Bayern Munich traveled to Berlin to face a resurgent Hertha side and maintain their seven-point lead over Dortmund. Currently clinging to fourth place in the table, Hertha hoped to solidify their chances of playing in the Champions League next season by taking three points from the Bavarians. The starting XI fielded by Pep Guardiola today proved up to the task, beating the Berliners by two while giving several key players some much needed rest before their upcoming Champions League trial against Atletico.

The Serdar Tasci show

Hertha came out aggressively in the opening minutes, pressing Bayern's defenders and looking for an early first goal. After initially struggling to maintain possession in the midfield, Bayern's first chance of the day came off a breakaway by Douglas Costa, who unfortunately shot the ball into the hands of Berlin's keeper Thomas Kraft. Although Bayern soon began to settle down and control the pace of the game, Hertha still regularly seized the ball and launched counterattacks.

Many of Hertha's attacks in the first half converged on center-back Serdar Tasci, who made a kind of second debut for Bayern after a mere 53 inglorious minutes of previous playing time (against Darmstadt). Former Bayern man Mitchell Weiser created a dangerous opportunity in front of Bayern's goal, challenging Tasci twice in short succession, but the man from Moscow stood firm. Tasci also handily blocked a header from Niklas Stark on a corner kick and later headed away a dangerous ball from yet another coordinated Hertha assault. While neither team could break through, at halftime, Hertha had outshot a frustrated Bayern 7 to 3.

Vidal fires, Costa floats

Bayern at last struck early In the second half. In what is becoming a familiar scene, after Hertha stifled an attack on the left wing, Bayern shifted to the middle. There Mario Götze found Vidal charging forward, and Vidal blasted the ball from outside into the goal. As the hour mark approached, Guardiola tapped his luxury bench: David Alaba and Franck Ribery came on for Rafinha and Thomas Muller, replacing Bayern's offense on the left and shifting Costa to the right.

Bayern immediately tightened its grip on the midfield, allowing Hertha fewer chances to go forward. Costa and Kimmich occupied them on the right, and Ribery and Götze kept them en garde on the left. Kraft himself also flirted with disaster when Robert Lewandowski nearly stripped the ball from him uncomfortably far from his goal, and he defused yet another threat as Douglas Costa floated a ball over for Ribery to head in.

Bayern seemed to be on cruise control as the eightieth minute approached, when Douglas Costa, coming out of nowhere from well outside the penalty area, put an incredible shot past Kraft into the far corner of the net. Now with a commanding 2-0 lead, Bayern ensured that Hertha had no late chances to change the score line.

Match Details

Hertha Berlin (0-2) Bayern Munich

Goals:
Hertha:
"Try not to lose any more points and hold fourth place."
Bayern: Vidal (48'), Costa (79')

Yellow Cards:
Hertha: none
Bayern: Rafinha (37'), Müller (41'), Vidal (52'), Thiago (77')

Hertha XI: Kraft - Plattenhardt, Langkamp, Stark, Pekarik - Cigerci (Kohls, 83'), Lustenberger - Mittelstädt, Stocker (Kalou), Weiser - Ibisevic (Schieber, 46')

Bayern XI: Neuer - Rafinha (Alaba, 57'), Benatia, Tasci, Kimmich - Vidal - Götze, Thiago, Müller (Ribery, 57'), Costa - Lewandowski (Martinez, 83')