Bayern Munich extended their lead at the top of the Bundesliga to seven points on Tuesday evening, after a superb Joshua Kimmich chip gave them a 1-0 win over second-placed Borussia Dortmund at an empty Signal Iduna Park.
The latest Der Klassiker match-up had been billed as a potential title decider; the two rivals were separated by just four points at the top of the table heading into the game.
The hosts came into the derby boasting the best home record in the league and hoping to avenge their 4-0 thrashing by Bayern earlier in the season. Bayern however arrived in Dortmund on the back of six-game winning streak and with an eighth successive Bundesliga title firmly in their sights.
A frantic opening almost had the hosts ahead inside 29 seconds as Erling Haaland drove into the area before shooting through the legs of the oncoming Manuel Neuer, however Jerome Boateng – making his 400th Bundesliga appearance- was well placed to clear the ball off the line. Not long after that, Julian Brandt tested the reflexes of Neuer, who made a comfortable save.
Dortmund then had the ball in the back of the net in the seventh minute, though Thorgan Hazard was flagged for offside as Raphael Guerreiro headed home his cross.
The visitors gradually found their footing and after 19 minutes, they had their own effort cleared off the line when the retreating Lukasz Piszczek denied Serge Gnabry from close range. Kingsley Coman had slipped the ball into the path of Gnabry inside the penalty area and while his low shot beat goalkeeper Roman Burki, Piszczek was there to flick the ball away on the goal line.
In the minutes that followed, both Coman and Leon Goretzka were denied by Burki. The visitors would eventually find the breakthrough two minutes before the interval, thanks to a moment of magic from Joshua Kimmich. After bouncing around the outside of the area, the ball would eventually fall into the path of the German international, who took a few strides before spotting Burki off his line and chipping the ball over the keeper into the top corner.
Dortmund, despite the introduction of Jadon Sancho and Emre Can at half-time, struggled to create any clear-cut chances in the second half as Bayern maintained control after the break.
Early in the second half, Burki made several comfortable saves before Guerreiro came close to extending his scoring run of form with a free-kick, but Neuer quickly thwarted the danger.
In the 58th minute, Dortmund had a strong case for a penalty as Haaland’s shot caught Boateng on the arm before going out for a corner, however play continued without a VAR review.
Bayern’s organised defence continued to frustrate the hosts throughout the second half, although Dortmund did come close to levelling proceedings in the 70th minute when Sancho burst down the left flank and swept the ball into the area, however Haaland was unable to make contract with the cross.
The hosts created another half-chance moments later as Mahmoud Dahoud tried his luck from outside the penalty area, but Neuer parried the swerving shot away from goal as Bayern continued to cling to their lead. Just after, Robert Lewandowski hit a similarly powerful effort at the other end, but the ball bounced off the upright.
In added time, Bayern strongly appealed for a penalty as Manuel Akanji barged Lewandowski with his shoulder; yet again VAR was not implemented.
But it would be the visitors who would have the final word as the full-time whistle was greeted by roars from the Bayern players and staff as they took a huge step towards another Bundesliga title.
A victory for Dortmund would have heaped the pressure on their rivals, but now the Bavarian side have a seven-point lead at the top with just six games to play. Bayern Munich still have the face high-flying Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach, however an eighth league title now seems like a formality.
Bayern goalscorer Joshua Kimmich commented:
It was maybe the most beautiful goal of my life and also very important. I didn’t see him off his line but we were told before the game that Burki stands a bit off his line so I went for it and with a bit of luck it went in.
Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels added:
I think now it is only up to Bayern to decide the title. We’re seven points behind and can do nothing more than win our games. But we have to hope they slip up three times.