Bayern Munich survived a battering from Hoffenheim to earn a 3-1 win in the Bundesliga’s season-opening match despite seeing two goals ruled out by VAR.
Hoffenheim inflicted pain early and often with a physical style of play, earning four yellow cards in the first half and sending Kingsley Coman off injured just before the break on a hard challenge by Nico Schultz that on another day could have earned him a sending off.
[ MORE: Coman injured in first half ]
Thomas Muller opened the scoring in the 23rd minute with a free header off an inswinging corner by Joshua Kimmich, and it looked like Bayern might roll. However, Hoffenheim gummed up the match with its persistent fouling, and they would eventually equalize just before the hour mark.
Adam Szalai fired a low shot across Manuel Neuer’s goal and into the bottom-left corner to even things up, and it started to look dicey for the hosts. Nevertheless, Bayern weathered the storm and Franck Ribery earned a penalty in the 78th minute as he looked to play past a sliding Havard Nordveldt. Ribery tried to go up and over Nordveldt but instead was sent flying to the turf, and while the call remained questionable thanks to little actual contact, VAR was not called upon to challenge the decision.
On Robert Lewandowski’s ensuing penalty, Oliver Baumann made the save, and while Coman’s replacement Arjen Robben was there to poke home the rebound, VAR disallowed the goal on encroachment, meaning Lewandowski was forced to retake the penalty. Given a second chance, the Polish international buried the chance to put Bayern 2-1 up.
Lewandowski had a goal previously disallowed for offside, and VAR again ruled out a Bayern goal late in the match, pulling back a hard deflection off the body of Thomas Muller on the grounds of handball. Still, the hosts would eventually earn a third as Robben roofed one on the break in the 90th minute, and the game was decided.
The win gives Bayern a solid start to its title defense, with the Bavarian giants hoping to earn their seventh straight domestic championship.