Niko Kovac believes that Bayern Munich’s individual quality proved the difference in their 4-1 victory over Bundesliga strugglers Stuttgart.
Bayern kept within six points of leaders Borussia Dortmund with Sunday’s victory, although they were far from at their best for large parts of the contest.
Indeed, a stunning strike from Anastasios Donis cancelled out Thiago Alcantara’s early opener, with Bayern relying on an own goal from Christian Gentner to restore their lead.
Leon Goretzka made things more comfortable with just under 20 minutes remaining, before Robert Lewandowski atoned for an earlier penalty miss by rounding off the win.
And Kovac acknowledged that his side struggled against a resilient opponent.
“We get into the game well by making it 1-0. After that we played too slowly, had too many people behind the ball and failed to break the block the Stuttgart had built,” Kovac told a news conference.
“It was much better in the second half. We played faster and more vertically and managed to bring our individual class into play.
“We then have earned the win with the variety of opportunities created. It means we can check off a win and continue.”
— Thomas Müller (@esmuellert_) January 27, 2019
Despite Gentner’s own goal, Lewandowski’s penalty miss left Stuttgart with hope of getting back into the contest until Goretzka struck in the 71st minute, netting his third goal in two Bundesliga matches, and Bayern’s midfielder echoed Kovac’s sentiment.
“We started well, as so often this season. After that, we downshifted a gear and probably, deservedly, the compensation equalised,” he said.
“It is positive that in the end we still won clearly. In the first round, such a game might have been tied.
“If we lead 3-0 at half-time, then the game is very different. With Bayern you always have pressure, because you have to win every game.”
Bayern face Bayer Leverkusen next time out, before travelling to Hertha Berlin in the DFB-Pokal.
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