A creditable performance from the Wolves was ultimately insufficient to achieve a positive result at the Allianz Arena, as late goals from Joshua Zirkzee and Serge Gnabry handed the home side all three points.
VfL head coach Oliver Glasner made two changes to the team that drew with Schalke 04 during the week: Felix Klaus was brought in to lead the line – his first start since Matchday 11 – in place of Wout Weghorst, who had been struggling with illness and was therefore dropped from the starting line-up in the league for the first time this season. Renato Steffen, meanwhile, replaced Josip Brekalo, who took a spot on the bench alongside Weghorst.
Back and forth
Bayern dominated possession and put the Wolves under pressure right from the outset. Ivan Perisic was in lively form early on, and his back-post header forced Koen Casteels into a solid save after 12 minutes. Undaunted, the visitors looked for opportunities to counter, and during one of those breaks Klaus was unfortunate not to give VfL the lead after Xaver Schlager played him through brilliantly, but Manuel Neuer was alert to the danger.
Subsequently, David Alaba and Gnabry brought out the best in Casteels, while Thomas Müller went close with an effort that grazed the post, as the reigning champions strived to find a way through a resolute VfL rearguard. In the 41st minute, Robert Lewandowski, who had been kept rather quiet by John Brooks and Co. up to that point, set up Philippe Coutinho, but the Brazilian blasted over. Not to be outdone, the Wolves raced up the other end and created a similar chance for Maximilian Arnold, but the midfielder’s shot was also slightly too high.
Bayern strike late
The Green-and-Whites almost snatched the lead directly from the second-half kick-off, but Jerome Roussillon’s inviting cross just evaded the outstretched leg of Joao Victor. Then, Casteels, who was having an excellent match, denied Coutinho, before Roussillon produced an incredible headed clearance to prevent Müller from scoring an almost certain goal.
As the half wore on, the home side grew increasingly desperate, forced into aimless long-range efforts by the high-pressing visiting backline. At the other end, Glasner threw on Weghorst for Klaus with a quarter-of-an-hour to go, and the robust striker played a part in another excellent opportunity, heading the ball down for substitute Paolo Otavio, who laid it off in turn for Arnold, but his shot was deflected wide.
Just when it seemed like the Wolves would acquire at least a point, Bayern negated all that good work by striking twice in the last five minutes. First, Müller fed Zirkzee, and the young substitute poked the ball into the net for the opener. Then, as VfL poured forward in search of a late, late equaliser, they were hit on the break, Lewandowski setting up Gnabry to wrap up a match from which the visitors might well have taken something on another day.
VfL Wolfsburg: Casteels – Mbabu, Tisserand, Brooks, Roussillon – Guilavogui (c) – Victor, Schlager (Gerhardt 57’), Arnold, Steffen (Otavio 66’) – Klaus (Weghorst 77’)
FC Bayern Munich: Neuer (c) – Pavard, Martinez (Boateng 45’), Alaba, Davies – Kimmich, Müller, Coutinho (Zirkzee 83’), Gnabry (Dajaku 90’), Perisic – Lewandowski
Goals: Zirkzee (86’), Gnabry (89’)
Yellow cards: Otavio, Arnold / Kimmich, Müller
Referee: Christian Dingert (Gries)