Bayern Munich took a giant stride towards an eighth consecutive Bundesliga crown as Joshua Kimmich’s inspired chip settled a thrilling top-two tussle with Borussia Dortmund.
‘Der Klassiker’ was not only the biggest match since football resumed amid the coronavirus pandemic but the most important given the fight for supremacy in Germany.
Dortmund had the chance to move within a point of leaders Bayern on Tuesday evening, but Kimmich would open up an eye-watering seven-point gap over second as his magnificent clipped effort sealed a 1-0 win.
Defeat at an empty Signal Iduna Park was always going to be bigger for the hosts than it would have been for Hansi Flick’s visitors, who it would take a brave person to back against lifting the title at this stage of the season.
Erling Braut Haaland and Serge Gnabry had efforts cleared off the line at either end during a first half as intense as it was entertaining, with Kimmich’s moment of magic just before the break ultimately proving the difference.
The Bayern midfielder’s outrageous chip caught out Roman Burki and Lucien Favre’s impressive side failed to respond on an evening when the video assistant referee somehow failed to intervene when Haaland’s strike hit Jerome Boateng’s arm.
The teenager would limp off injured to compound matters during a second half that would see Robert Lewandowski rattle the woodwork of his former club late on.
Dortmund had flown out of the blocks on Tuesday and Boateng had to thwart Haaland on the line less than a minute in after Manuel Neuer darted off his line, while Raphael Guerreiro saw an early goal ruled out for offside.
Favre’s side were looking as sharp as ever on the break and capable of punishing Bayern down the flanks, but the visitors kept their cool and began to exert pressure.
Lewandowski saw a hopeful effort denied and Thomas Muller just failed to connect with a clipped Kimmich pass, with Lukasz Piszczek producing an excellent goal-line clearance when thwarting Gnabry.
Haaland was proving a handful but outstanding Alphonso Davies got back superbly to deny the teenager in a pulsating encounter that had seen Burki deny Kingsley Coman and Leon Goretzka.
But just as half-time approached, the Dortmund goalkeeper was left clawing helplessly when Kimmich showed impressive composure, vision and skill in sending a glorious 20-yard chip into the top left-hand corner.
Coman and Goretzka forced saves out of Burki as Bayern looked to add to that gut punch after the break, while also proving a mean last line of defence when BVB ventured forwards.
Frustration at failing to break down the visitors would turn to exasperation when the VAR did not intervene after Boateng, lying on the deck, turned Haaland’s shot away from goal with his arm.
There was more irritation for Dortmund as their precocious teenage striker limped off moments later when failing to connect with a dangerous cross from substitute Jadon Sancho.
Guerreiro fizzed a free-kick at Neuer and an offside Thorgan Hazard somehow turned an effort wide, with Mahmoud Dahoud forcing a great save as the hosts continued to seek an equaliser.
Lewandowski saw a shot hit the post via a slight Mats Hummels deflection as Bayern looked to rub salt into the wounds in the closing stages.
Joshua Kimmich believes Borussia Dortmund will struggle to keep up with Bayern Munich after his sensational chip sealed a “brutally important” victory in the Bundesliga title race.
All eyes were on Signal Iduna Park as ‘Der Klassiker’ played out in front of empty stands but millions of extra football-starved viewers.
But Dortmund failed to capitalise on a bright start and Kimmich put Bayern on course for a 1-0 win that extends the perennial champions’ lead to seven points with a smart chip from 20 yards.
“We now have a good cushion on Dortmund,” the lung-busting matchwinner said. “That was brutally important today.
“It’ll be mentally difficult for Dortmund to keep up. We have to reaffirm this lead in the next games.
“You could see that it was very, very intense and we had to work our way up to the three points.
“It was relatively balanced, especially in the first half we made many simple mistakes. Dortmund were very bold.”
Bayern head coach Hansi Flick believes victory at their nearest rivals was a “big step” and skipper Manuel Neuer knows an eighth successive Bundesliga crown is within their grasp.
“I’m glad about the victory on the road,” the goalkeeper said. “It was an important match. We’re always extra motivated away to Dortmund. You could see that.
“The one-goal lead wasn’t a real cushion. Sometimes Dortmund got into the danger zone in the second half.
“Of course we didn’t take all our chances. Now it’s up to us. It was an important sign and an important victory.”
Dortmund defender Mats Hummels knows the Bayern mentality better than most, having been part of their last three Bundesliga-winning sides before returning to Signal Iduna Park in the summer.
“We were too wasteful around the penalty area in the first half,” he said. “We had two or three opportunities to shoot.
“It was that all-important final ball. It was missing in certain moments, otherwise we would have had chances.
“When we did have the chances, then our finishing wasn’t good enough. It was not a poor performance. We fell just a little short.
“Every team apart from Bayern is now out of the title race. Now it is entirely up to Bayern to decide whether they win it or not.
“We’re seven points behind and can’t do anything other than win our matches, while at the same time also hoping that they make three slip-ups in the remaining six matches.”
Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre echoed the defender’s sentiments after a match in which the video assistant referee inexplicably did not intervene when Erling Haaland’s second-half shot was blocked by Jerome Boateng’s arm.
“We made a very good start in the opening 30 minutes but we sat too deep after that,” Favre said. “The second half was good too.
“We had opportunities. But the penultimate or final ball was missing.
“We at least deserved to draw. We played better than we did against Wolfsburg and Schalke.”