BERLIN Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich needed late goals from Arturo Vidal and Arjen Robben to beat relegation-threatened Ingolstadt 2-0 on Saturday in a tepid performance four days before they host Arsenal in the Champions League.
It was hardly the dress rehearsal that Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti had hoped for ahead of their round of 16 first leg against the Premier League club in Munich on Wednesday.
Despite the scrappy performance, Bayern opened up a seven-point lead at the top.
"It was an important win for us and we had to work hard for it," Ancelotti told reporters. "We had to improve considerably in the second half and we were rewarded in the end. We showed a lot of character."
But his team lacked a clear game plan and inspiration on a rugged pitch where they struggled against Ingolstadt's solid defence and had only one chance for Robert Lewandowski to show for after 45 minutes.
Bayern, chasing a record-extending fifth consecutive Bundesliga title, almost scored straight after the restart but a Thomas Mueller shot was cleared on the line.
Poland forward Lewandowski hit the woodwork late in the game in their only other clear scoring chance before Vidal was left unmarked in the box to volley in for the lead in the 90th minute.
Substitute Robben added another in stoppage time as Bayern moved up to 49 points.
Second-placed Leipzig lost further ground on Bayern after being beaten 3-0 by visitors Hamburg SV.
Former Leipzig player Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who left in January after only four months, headed Hamburg into the lead with his second goal in two matches.
The visitors added two more through Walace and Aaron Hunt to make it three wins in three matches in all competitions and move out of the bottom three for the first time since the third matchday and up to 15th.
Leipzig, who suffered their first home loss of the season, are second on 42 with Borussia Dortmund dropping to fourth after their shock 2-1 loss to bottom-placed Darmstadt 98.
Dortmund, who travel to Benfica in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday, are on 34 points with Eintracht Frankfurt in third on 35 after they lost 3-0 to Bayer Leverkusen courtesy of a Javier Hernandez double.
Schalke 04 eased past Hertha Berlin 2-0 for their first win in three matches to move up to 11th and reignite their hopes of a European spot.
Hertha, who have now lost three of their last four games, are stuck in sixth place on 33, losing ground in the hunt for Champions League spot.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond)