Bayern Munich 1 RB Leipzig 0: Ribery keeps cool amid feisty finish

Bayern Munich breathed new life into the Bundesliga title race with a hard-earned 1-0 win over RB Leipzig.

Bayern Munich players celebrate Franck Ribery's winner against RB Leipzig.   -  Bongarts

Franck Ribery fired Bayern Munich back to within six points of Borussia Dortmund with a cool 83rd-minute finish in a 1-0 home win over RB Leipzig on Wednesday.

Dortmund's surprise first loss of the season at Fortuna Dusseldorf on Tuesday opened the door for the champion to reignite its title hopes and it did just that late in a largely frustrating fixture.

Peter Gulacsi brilliantly denied both Robert Lewandowski and Joshua Kimmich either side of half-time but the visitor's resistance came to an end when substitute Ribery hit home amid a penalty box scramble.

Both sides were reduced to 10 men in stoppage time - Renato Sanches receiving a second yellow for reacting to a rash challenge on Thiago Alcantara that earned Stefan Ilsanker a straight red - but Niko Kovac will care little after securing a valuable fourth successive Bundesliga victory.

Gulacsi's impressive performance began during the opening exchanges as he expertly turned Lewandowski's finish against the base of the post in a one-on-one.

Bayern was missing Jerome Boateng because of a back problem and lost the in-form Serge Gnabry to a suspected groin strain in the 28th minute.

Its difficult first half almost worsened before the break, Dayot Upamecano crashing a header against the crossbar from Kevin Kampl's corner.

Kovac's side initially offered little threat after the interval and a draw appeared inevitable when former Liverpool man Gulacsi sensationally scooped Kimmich's point-blank header off the line in the 79th minute.

But the experienced Ribery rolled back the years with a match-winning moment of calm four minutes later, evading multiple diving challenges and sliding in the winner, before tempers flared at the death as Ilsanker and Sanches were both given their marching orders.

What does it mean? Little for Liverpool to fear... for now

Bayern was paired with Premier League leader Liverpool in the Champions League last-16 draw earlier this week, a tie Kovac subsequently rated as 50-50.

It is tough to agree with the Croatian, at least at this juncture, given his team still appears a work in progress at both ends of the pitch. It might have brought the best from Gulacsi on a couple of occasions but was all too often disjointed going forward, and looks especially vulnerable when defending set-pieces.

Gulacsi greatness almost keeps Leipzig alive

If any Leipzig player was deserving of a clean sheet it was undoubtedly Gulacsi, who made two incredible stops that should not be forgotten in the context of Ribery's late intervention.

Coman comeback hits a setback

The introduction of Sanches in place of Kingsley Coman on the hour seemed an awkward adjustment for Kovac to make, but the coach's hand was forced by an anonymous display from the winger. Coman is still in the relative infancy of his return from a long-term ankle injury and his rustiness was on display when he failed to find Lewandowski with an inviting crossing opportunity shortly after the interval.

What's next?

Both clubs have one Bundesliga fixture remaining before the mid-season break as Bayern heads to Kovac's former employer Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, the same day as Leipzig's home meeting with mid-table Werder Bremen.

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