Bayern 2-0 Wolfsburg: Super sub Joshua Zirkzee strikes again

Joshua Zirkzee continued a stunning start to his Bundesliga career by coming off the bench to score a crucial goal for Bayern Munich.

Joshua Zirkzee of Bayern Munich made another crucial impact off the bench as Bayern Munich left it late to beat Wolfsburg 2-0.   -  Bongarts

Joshua Zirkzee made another crucial impact off the bench as Bayern Munich left it late to beat Wolfsburg 2-0 with two goals in the last five minutes of normal time.

The reigning Bundesliga champion, whose injury troubles were deepened by the first-half exit of Javi Martinez on Saturday, looked set to lose further ground at the top of the table as visiting goalkeeper Koen Casteels produced a fine performance at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern appeared to be running out of ideas in the closing stages after creating plenty of chances prior to the interval, but substitute Zirkzee - who scored a key goal on his league debut against Freiburg in midweek -  again provided a dramatic late intervention.

The 18-year-old converted Thomas Muller's cut-back in the 85th minute to break the deadlock, before Serge Gnabry added a second to make his side's victory certain.

Bayern will now head into the winter break four points off the top of the table, having ultimately finished 2019 on a high note.

 

Casteels was frequently forced into action in the first period, the Wolfsburg goalkeeper making particularly impressive saves to keep out a curling free-kick from David Alaba and Gnabry's powerful strike from a narrow angle.

At the other end, Manuel Neuer sprung off his line to impressively deny Felix Klaus following Xaver Schlager's neat throughball, while Maximilian Arnold curled an effort narrowly over.

After Martinez had limped off clutching his right thigh, Wolfsburg wasted a golden opportunity in the first minute of the second half. A right-wing cross found its way through to Jerome Roussillon, but his drilled ball back across goal just evaded the stretching Joao Victor.

The outstanding Casteels made his best stop of the contest seven minutes later, clawing away a 25-yarder from Philippe Coutinho that appeared destined for the top-right corner, while a heroic Roussillon clearance denied Thomas Muller.

As Bayern faded, Arnold saw a shot deflect agonisingly wide off Benjamin Pavard, but Wolfsburg was then sunk as Zirkzee finished through the legs of John Brooks from Muller's pass and Gnabry latched on to a Robert Lewandowski header to make it 2-0.

 

What does it mean? Zirkzee goals leave Bayern ominously placed

How big might Zirkzee's goals against Freiburg and Wolfsburg look at the end of the season? An injury-hit Bayern could easily have dropped four points in its last two matches. Instead, it won both games to ensure it remains within striking distance of Leipzig and Borussia Monchengladbach.

Wolfsburg loss harsh on Casteels

Casteels' second-half save from Coutinho was of the highest class and Wolfsburg's keeper did not deserve to be on the losing side after making several fine stops.

Lewandowksi misses chance to match Gerd Muller record

Lewandowski, who will undergo groin surgery over the winter break, was a largely peripheral figure as he failed to register the one goal he needed to equal Gerd Muller's record of 20 goals in the first half of a Bundesliga season. However, the prolific forward was still able to set up Gnabry's late strike.

What's next?

After the Bundesliga's winter break, Bayern resumes its campaign on Sunday 19 January with a trip to Hertha Berlin. Wolfsburg is in action a day earlier at Cologne.

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