SPORT

Nervous Bayern eventually beat Stuttgart 4-1

Bayern Munich produced a stuttering 4-1 home win over Stuttgart on Sunday to cut the gap at the top of the Bundesliga back to six points.

Second-placed Bayern prevailed thanks to Thiago Alcantara, a deflected Serge Gnabry effort, Leon Goretzka and Robert Lewandowski but struggling Stuttgart had been level at 1-1 at the break.

Leaders Borussia Dortmund had piled the pressure on champions Bayern by hammering struggling Hanover 5-1 at home on Saturday.

It initially looked like Bayern would respond in kind when Thiago netted after five minutes with a sharp finish from just inside the area.

But Stuttgart's Anastasios Donis levelled when he unleashed a superb curling effort on 26 minutes which Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer had no chance of saving.

Poor Bayern play in midfield and defence though led to the equalizer.

Bayern winger Kingsley Coman fired just wide before the break and nerves were showing among fans at the Allianz Arena until Gnabry's fierce shot went in off Christian Gentner on 55 minutes.

The Bundesliga gave it as an own goal even though Gnabry's effort was on target, albeit heading for the opposite corner of the net.

Robert Lewandowski should soon have made it more comfortable for Bayern and boss Niko Kovac but shot over when well placed.

Stuttgart then came agonizingly close to another equalizer when Nicolas Gonzalez struck the post after some pinball in the box.

Bayern's Lewandowski followed that up by hitting the post from the penalty spot after being felled in the box.

The hosts eventually found some breathing space when Goretzka powered in a header from a corner on 71 minutes but keeper Ron-Robert Zieler made it easy for him with an ill-judged jump for the ball.

Lewandowski then finally got his goal late on but the score flattered Bayern, who were not at their convincing best.

"We are not totally happy," Goretzka told Sky after a seventh straight Bundesliga win.

"We started well...then we switched off a bit. But in the end we won it clearly, maybe in the first half of the season we would have drawn that game."

Stuttgart, in the relegation play-off spot, have seen no real improvement since Markus Weinzierl replaced Tayfun Korkut as coach in October.

Under their new coach, they have won only three times in the league and have now lost nine. It is the worst Bundesliga season so far in club history.

Sunday's late game pits Fortuna Dusseldorf against RB Leipzig, rounding out the weekend's action. The visitors can jump back into fourth spot and the final Champions League berth.

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