Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller impressed but Bayern Munich made hard work of beating Hoffenheim 4-3 to reach the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals.
Holders Bayern appeared to be cruising into the last eight when Lewandowski put them 3-1 up at half-time on Wednesday, yet a lacklustre second-half showing gave Hoffenheim – who had taken the lead through Jerome Boateng’s own goal – unexpected hope.
Bayern had quickly levelled when Benjamin Hubner put through his own goal before Muller – who had a hand in all three of the hosts’ first-half goals – nosed them ahead.
Lewandowski’s second made it 4-1 with 10 minutes to go before Munas Dabbur’s late double set up the possibility of unlikely comeback that just fell short as Bayern ultimately did enough to book their progress.
Bayern thought they had the lead in the fifth minute, yet Muller had strayed marginally offside before he teed up Lewandowski and, against the run of play, the hosts were behind when Boateng sliced in Ihlas Bebou’s strike.
But Hoffenheim’s lead was short lived as Hubner, under pressure from Muller, was only able to turn Alphonso Davies’ cross into his own net.
The turnaround was complete in the 20th minute, Muller sending a nonchalant side-foot volley beyond Philipp Pentke, who then made outstanding stops to deny Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry.
Lewandowski would not be denied again, though, heading into an empty net after Muller forced Pentke into a poor punch.
Pentke did well to prevent Lewandowski doubling his tally five minutes after the break, before Muller squandered a golden chance to get his second.
Steven Zuber had a goal disallowed for the visitors and Bayern extended the lead when Lewandowski headed in Joshua Kimmich’s corner with 10 minutes remaining.
Sloppy Bayern defending gifted Dabbur his first as he dinked over Manuel Neuer and the substitute striker tapped home the rebound after Benjamin Pavard sliced Pavel Kaderabek’s cross against the left post in the second minute of injury time to add to Bayern’s nerves.
The hosts just about saw it out, though, to put their names into the hat for the last eight.
What does it mean? Flick on course for silverware but defence a cause for concern
Despite his struggles at Bayern, Niko Kovac did win the domestic double last season and Hansi Flick – who is surely in with a chance of getting the job permanently – will be eager to match his predecessor’s achievements.
With Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig having both slipped out on Tuesday, Bayern are certainly the clear favourites to win the competition for what would be a 20th time, though they will have to be much more solid at the back in the next round.
Muller and Lewandowski lead the way
After a difficult season in 2018-19, Muller has been back to his best since Flick took charge and, along with Lewandowski, ultimately ensured Bayern’s defensive lapses did not come back to cost the hosts on Wednesday.
Boateng and Pavard almost throw it away
It was a woeful start for Boateng, who made a mess of attempting to clear Bebou’s effort and the former Manchester City man was lucky not to net a second own goal in the second half when he deflected a strike just over the bar.
Pavard, meanwhile, made a poor mistake for Hoffenheim’s final goal and – along with the rest of the defence – was guilty of overplaying when Dabbur made it 4-2.
The Bundesliga’s top two face off when Bayern host RB Leipzig on Sunday, while Hoffenheim are in action against Freiburg a day earlier.
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