BERLIN Douglas Costa's unstoppable 25-metre strike was enough to give lacklustre Bayern Munich a 1-0 victory over bottom side Darmstadt 98 on Sunday and put the champions back on top of the Bundesliga.
The Bavarians, who had lost the lead to RB Leipzig after they beat Hertha Berlin 2-0 on Saturday, are on 36 points, ahead on goal difference of the promoted club and nine ahead of third-placed Hoffenheim.
Bayern, who host Leipzig on Wednesday before the Bundesliga's one-month winter break, had most of the possession but did little in terms of creating major chances in the first half at Darmstadt.
"It was a hard game and Darmstadt defended really well," said Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti. "We were not quick enough in the first half. What's important is we won and stayed top.
"But we can player better and faster. On Wednesday against Leipzig we will do everything to win," said the Italian.
Central defender Mats Hummels wasted their best opportunity when he headed over the bar from two metres out in the 40th minute with the visitors calling for a penalty after he was challenged by Mario Vrancic.
The hosts grew bolder after the break with Jerome Gondorf firing over the bar from inside the box and Vrancic curling a free kick narrowly wide.
However, Brazilian Costa struck against the run of play in the 71st, picking up the ball from a Thiago free kick and releasing a thundering, left-footed drive to beat keeper Michael Esser.
His Bayern counterpart Manuel Neuer had to come to the rescue twice later in the game as Darmstadt, languishing in last place on eight points, looked in vain for an equaliser.
In the other match of the day struggling Ingolstadt made it two wins in a row with a 2-1 victory over hosts Bayer Leverkusen to move out of the bottom places and into the relegation playoff spot in 16th.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Clare Fallon)