Xabi Alonso’s wonder-strike saw Bayern Munich beat Darmstadt 1-0 at the Allianz Arena, booking their place in the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals.
Despite controlling the game from the outset, the Bavarian giants struggled to create opportunities against Dirk Schuster’s defensive side.
Bayern looked set to go into the break without a goal, but a moment of magic from Alonso in the 40th minute put them in charge, before Robert Lewandowski rattled the post soon after.
Darmstadt showed more adventure after the interval, though it was Pep Guardiola’s team who had the better of the chances – Thomas Muller narrowly missing the target early in the second half.
However, there were to be no more goals as Bayern secured a spot in the last eight for the ninth successive season.
Although Ingolstadt troubled Bayern with a high press in their Bundesliga clash on Saturday, it was clear early on that Darmstadt’s plan was instead to sit back and allow Guardiola’s team to dominate possession.
Arturo Vidal warmed the gloves of Christian Mathenia with a 25-yard strike inside five minutes, but the hosts struggled to make their monopoly on the ball count during the opening exchanges.
Kingsley Coman was bright on the left, but the opposite flank was the source of Lewandowski’s first chance with 19 minutes on the clock.
Joshua Kimmich fed the striker on the edge of the box and, after breezing past Slobodan Rajkovic, his cross-goal shot skidded narrowly wide.
Schuster’s team continued to defend impressively, but their resistance was eventually broken five minutes before the interval.
Sandro Wagner’s headed clearance from a corner fell to Alonso 30 yards from goal, and the Spaniard produced a sensational half-volley that flew beyond Mathenia and into the top corner of the net.
Bayern came close to doubling their lead before the break but Lewandowski saw his header from a Philipp Lahm cross came back off the upright.
Guardiola’s team remained on the front foot after the restart and Muller almost double their advantage when his brilliant strike from the right-hand side of the box curled just wide.
Mathenia had to be on his toes to stop Peter Niemeyer’s interception of a square pass from Muller inadvertently creeping into the bottom corner shortly before the hour.
Marcel Heller’s direct dribbling was a problem down Bayern’s right, but Wagner failed to make a cross from the wide-man count when he headed comfortably into Manuel Neuer’s arms 19 minutes from time.
Mathenia produced a fantastic save to stop Coman from acrobatically finishing Lahm’s deflected delivery eight minutes from time, but Alonso’s first goal of the season was worthy of winning any game.
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