BERLIN (Reuters) - Bayern Munich’s Serge Gnabry scored twice to help beat his former club Werder Bremen 2-1 on Saturday as the embattled champions notched up their first win in four Bundesliga matches and moved up to third place.
Gnabry, who briefly played for Werder before joining Bayern in 2017, opened the scoring after 20 minutes, with the visitors, who saw the return of winger Kingsley Coman after an injury at the start of the season, missing several early chances.
Bayern coach Niko Kovac fielded almost the same team that beat Benfica Lisbon 5-1 in midweek to advance to the Champions League knockout stage, with Gnabry replacing the injured Arjen Robben.
But, as in the previous three league matches where Bayern scored first, they quickly conceded, with Yuya Osako beating a defender and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to the ball to head the equaliser in the 33rd.
Gnabry, however, intercepted a Thomas Mueller cutback to score the winner five minutes into the second half as Bayern climbed to third on 24 points, nine behind leaders Borussia Dortmund who beat Freiburg 2-0.
The result will ease some of the pressure on the coach, players and club bosses after dissatisfaction with the current state of the team was voiced by club members during Friday’s annual general assembly.
“This victory is a huge relief for us and improves the atmosphere and our confidence,” Gnabry told reporters. “Of course we know the standings so three points are very important for us.”
Bayern bosses have backed Kovac despite reportedly growing opposition in the changing room of success-spoilt Bayern, who have won the last six league titles.
“We want to win every match until Christmas,” Kovac said. “We played an extremely good game and we dominated it in terms of skills, tactics and power.”
“If there is one thing to criticise it is our conversion rate. I counted six or seven other chances that should have been goals.”
The Croatian, whose team were far from impressive, did, however, have some more good news with Thiago Alcantara, another long-time injury absence, making his comeback as well.
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris and Clare Fallon