Bayern Munich survives scare to secure Kovac a winning start

Robert Lewandowski and Arjen Robben scored late goals to give Bayern Munich a hard-earned win over Hoffenheim at Allianz Arena.

Thomas Muller celebrates his goal with Bayern Munich team-mates.   -  Getty Images

Niko Kovac secured a first Bundesliga victory in charge of Bayern Munich as the champion commenced its title defence with a nervy 3-1 win over Hoffenheim on Friday.

Robert Lewandowski converted an 82nd minute penalty at the second attempt before Arjen Robben struck in stoppage time to seal all three points.

It appeared as though new boss Kovac would be forced to settle for a point when Adam Szalai produced a classy 57th-minute finish to cancel out Thomas Muller's earlier header.

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But, the reigning champion, which lost Kingsley Coman to a concerning ankle injury, was given a lifeline when substitute Havard Nordtveit brought down Franck Ribery with under 10 minutes remaining.

Lewandowski, recently vocal in the press about feeling unsupported by Bayern, had his first attempt at the winner saved by Oliver Baumann, and Robben's successful follow-up was ruled out for encroachment.

The prolific Poland striker was subsequently sent back to the spot and made no mistake as Robben eventually joined him on the scoresheet with a clinical finish at the death.

ALSO READ: Coman out for several weeks with ankle ligament tear

Bayern had started like a team that finished 21 points clear last season and its ominous opening was rewarded, thanks to Muller's header from a Joshua Kimmich corner in the 23rd minute.

It did suffer a setback when Coman hobbled off following a crude late challenge from Nico Schulz, and Kovac's headaches mounted 12 minutes after the interval as Szalai punished some sleepy defending.

A response was needed and it eventually came through two goals in a frantic final 10 minutes, Lewandowski and Robben combining to end Kovac's curious record of having never previously beaten Hoffenheim.

ALSO READ: Kovac defends Lewandowski after Bayern outburst

What does it mean: Questions over Lewandowski

Though his spot-kick blushes were spared courtesy of a retake, Lewandowski was some way short of the standards he has set in recent seasons. The 30-year-old, openly critical of Bayern chiefs this week, was quiet prior to the penalty and did little to suggest he has moved on from the frustration of being denied a move to Real Madrid.

Pat on the back: Joshua Kimmich

Now, an ever-present at right-back, Joshua Kimmich showed he has overcome Germany's nightmare World Cup with a typically confident display. He had more touches than anyone else on the pitch and was consistently a driving force for Bayern.

ALSO READ: Neuer names five teams who could challenge Bayern's Bundesliga dominance

Boot up the backside: Grifo's return to forget

Julian Nagelsmann's proactive decision to bring off the ineffective Vincenzo Grifo at half-time was a wise move. Having returned in the close-season for his second spell at the club, the midfielder will want to quickly forget a 45 minutes that featured just 10 passes, one tackle and scant forward momentum.

What's next?

Bayern's next assignment is a trip to Stuttgart next Saturday, while Hoffenheim will hope to rebound in a home meeting with Freiburg.

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