Herbstmeister!

Posted by Susie Schaaf

Bayern Munich didn't respond to the loss to Manchester City as supporters may have hoped, but the match got progressively better as time wore on. Mario Mandzukic opened the scoring for the home side at the end of the first half, and Mario Goetze would double the lead minutes after the restart. Pierre-Michel Lasogga pulled one back for Hamburg, before a second half stoppage time goal from substitute Xherdan Shaqiri brought the final tally to 3-1.

- Report: Bayern Munich 3-1 Hamburg

With Javi Martinez a late scratch, Jerome Boateng on suspension and David Alaba under a blanket on the bench, a somewhat piecemeal Bayern looked to overturn a shoddy display mid-week. Diego Contento and Rafinha ran out on the flanks in front of Manuel Neuer, with Daniel van Buyten deputising for Boateng and partnering with Dante.

Franck Ribery would start on the bench, as well, making way for the midfield five of Philipp Lahm at pivot with Thomas Mueller, Goetze, Toni Kroos and Thiago Alcantara behind striker Mandzukic.

Rafael van der Vaart and back-up keeper Jaroslav Drobny saw yellow in the opening minutes, setting the tone for a rather uninspiring first half where Bayern had the run of things, but couldn't quite score. Kroos took a peek from distance before Lasogga -- easily HSV's man of the match -- finally warmed Neuer's gloves.

Mueller found the back of the net 15 minutes in, but was offside, as Bert van Marwijk's midfield did their best to limit Bayern's damage. Goetze and Lahm would get close before Mandzukic just missed a header from a Rafinha cross.

Thiago caused Drobny a bit of trouble before a Mandzukic headed-ball from a Kroos free-kick went just wide. But, the Croatian striker would not be denied and scored the opener as Rafinha vaulted himself up to receive Kroos' pass, marvelously re-directing the ball back in the box for Mandzukic to bundle it home.

The second half opened with two decent Lasogga chances before Goetze added the second for Munich with a nifty turn-and-strike from a short Thiago pass. Ex-Bayern man Marcell Jansen saw his effort tipped out by Neuer for a corner before Pep Guardiola made his first substitution of the day -- bringing on Ribery for Goetze.

Ribery provided a bit of spark, with a pass to Mueller for a volley, but Bayern was looking -- dare I say -- complacent as HSV threatened a few times only to be stopped by some pretty defensive work from Dante and the gang.

Lasogga, again, came close with a driven ball and then van der Vaart's had a header saved by Neuer as Shaqiri and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg came on for Mueller and Kroos to save some legs for Tuesday's semi-final Club World Cup match in Morocco.

Ribery hugged Drobny after nearly getting past him before Lasogga finally got one on Neuer, going top net from a Jansen cut-back. Mandzukic would try to make it three, getting a diving save out of Drobny, before Shaqiri sealed the three points in injury time after a brilliant Neuer kick and a Hojbjerg assist.

Bayern Munich have now gone 40 Bundesliga matches without a loss, and are crowned Herbstmeister with one match to spare -- a fixture they won't be taking part in next weekend due to the Club World Cup.

They look tired, don't they? While more international glory might be in the cards over the next week, the winter break can't come soon enough.

But, all smiles at the end of this one with a laser-filled spectacle at the Allainz Arena with the boys holding a banner that said: "Together, we wrote history!"

Perhaps, just maybe, we can write a little more.

On a side note: Happy Holidays, all! As a special treat, watch Bayern Munich hilariously sing "Jingle Bells" in English!

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