Bayern Munich edged into the quarterfinals of the German Cup with an unnecessarily tense 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund. Andrej Yarmolenko pulled a goal back on 77 minutes for the cup holders after first half goals from Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller had put the 18-time winners firmly in command.
Treble-seeking Bayern sealed an eighth straight quarterfinal appearance by seeing off the challenge of Borussia Dortmund as the two bitter rivals squared off for a seventh consecutive season in the DFB Pokal.
After eliminating Leipzig in the previous round and now BVB, Bayern have already dumped the elite from the competition.
Bayern were 2-0 up and cruising but made life tough for themselves for missing a host of chances and taking their foot off the throttle after the hour mark. Swedish substitute Alexander Isak should have made it 2-2 in the final minutes in a game Bayern should have been leading by four or five.
Heynckes’ side will need to play better, for longer, during the business end of the season in April and May.
Manager rating out of 10
9 — Racking up 15 wins in 16 games (if you include the penalty shootout success in Leipzig); Jupp Heynckes has transformed Bayern’s fortunes going into the New Year. Now the 72-year-old, so rudely roused from his retirement, can enjoy a well-deserved break over Christmas and the New Year with his wife and dog in Niederrhein.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Sven Ulreich, 6 — Coming off his penalty save heroics at the weekend, Ulreich was a virtual spectator for the first hour, but did save well from BVB captain Marcel Schmelzer as the visitors came on strong in the last 20 minutes.
DF David Alaba, 7 — Revitalised under Heynckes, injecting plenty of pace and intent on the left in tandem with Ribery. He repaired his own basic mistake instantly by heading off the line from the lanky Ukrainian Yarmolenko on 35 minutes.
DF Niklas Sule, 7 — Rattled the crossbar but his central defensive partner Boateng needed no second invitation to mop up for the crucial opener. Replacing the sick Mats Hummels, the summer signing from Hoffenheim put in another healthy display at the heart of the defence.
DF Jerome Boateng, 8 — Powerfully headed past Roman Burki to give Bayern a deserved lead. Boateng, who found himself on the fringes with Carlo Ancelotti, has found rejuvenation under Heynckes. Vitally got his body in the way of Isak’s last minute shot to preserve his side’s fragile lead.
DF Joshua Kimmich, 6 — The German wunderkind was full of running on the right for the first hour but looked more confident going forward than he did defending for the final 20 minutes. Lucky to escape giving a penalty for handball as BVB pressed.
MF Javi Martinez, 7 — The Spaniard reserves his best for BVB — the 2013 Champions League final at Wembley and the DFB Pokal final the following year immediately spring to mind. This should have been a leisurely win and Martinez ran out of steam towards the end.
MF Arturo Vidal, 6 — Headed against the crossbar as early as the third minute. So committed as always with none of the petty fouls that infest his play when under pressure. That is until the combative Chilean fouled U.S. star Christian Pulisic on 83 minutes as the aforementioned pressure cranked up a notch.
MF Franck Ribery, 6 — Rested at the weekend and was full of zest on the left with his mate Alaba, bringing out the best in Burki with a fierce drive after a typically purposeful run. His effectiveness was blunted somewhat after receiving a stupid yellow card for running back on the pitch without the ref’s permission after an injury break. Consequently, with Heynckes reluctant to risk a red, Ribery was hauled off just after the hour mark.
MF James Rodriguez, 6 — The Colombian’s sharp delivery provided the opening goal — more evidence that his quality left foot is a real weapon. James was at the forefront of most of Bayern’s inventiveness in the first half but ran out of steam appreciably and was replaced for last quarter of an hour.
MF Thomas Muller, 8 — Captain of the side as the only remaining Bavarian, Muller looks to be enjoying life more under Heynckes. His cute lobbed finish over Burki for just his fourth goal of the season was a reminder of his finishing skills and he could have had another but for Burki’s amazing save with his feet five minutes after half time.
FW Robert Lewandowski, 6 — Hailed as “one of the best three strikers in the world” by Heynckes, Lewandowski missed a couple of chances in the first half but did feed Muller exquisitely for the second goal. Bayern should have racked up four or five but battling a patella injury, Lewandowski, like most of his colleagues, faded in the second half and picked up a yellow card as tempers frayed late on.
MF Kingsley Coman, 5 — The French youngster replaced Ribery, 13 years his senior, for the last half hour but could not provide any impetus as BVB battled back.
MF Corentin Tolisso, N/R — Bayern’s record signing replaced the tiring James on 65 minutes as Heynckes opted for fresh legs.
MF Sebastian Rudy, N/R — Replaced Martinez for the final minutes as Bayern huffed and puffed to an unnecessarily narrow win.
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.