Unlikely hero Tom Starke saves the day for Bayern vs. Darmstadt
Bayern Munich's veteran third choice goalkeeper Tom Starke proved the unlikely hero with a late penalty save as the German champions spluttered to a narrow 1-0 victory as Juan Bernat's fine solo goal in the 18th minute proved decisive against relegated Darmstadt.
Basking in a fifth successive Bundesliga title on a beautiful May day in Munich -- thanks to a strong Starke -- the Champions preserved their unbeaten home record, delivering the fatal blow to doomed Darmstadt's hope of staying in the Bundesliga.
A very end-of-season affair with Renato Sanches and Douglas Costa in particular, both yearning for the beach and looking like they would rather be elsewhere.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Carlo Ancelotti made seven changes from the side that won the title in commanding fashion in Wolfsburg last weekend, denying the Bayern faithful a penultimate chance to admire the talents of retiring skipper Philipp Lahm, who inexplicably languished on the bench for 90 minutes.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Tom Starke, 9 -- Understudy Sven Ulreich suffered elbow ligament damage on Friday and with Manuel Neuer already ruled out for the season with a foot injury, Bayern's 36-year-old No. 3 goalkeeper stepped in for only his sixth Bundesliga appearance in five seasons at the club. Veteran Starke was at full stretch to deny Felix Platte an equaliser with his fingertips on the half-hour mark, also producing a string of fine saves in the second half to preserve Bayern's slender lead -- the outstanding highlight a penalty stop from former Bayern and Real Madrid midfielder Hamit Altintop with just four minutes remaining. Despite a meagre eight appearances for the club, he has managed to amass 13 trophies to fill his bulging cabinet (nice work if you can get it), or to put it another way, a glittering prize for every 55 minutes of action. Starke joked after the final whistle: "nobody can take my place in goal now after today's performance."
DF Juan Bernat, 7 -- In what may prove his final season at the club, Bernat slotted in for David Alaba at left-back. On his 11th start of the season, the Spanish international scored the only goal of the game weaving his way through a dizzy Darmstadt defence before scooping a delightful finish past Michael Esser, doubling his Bundesliga goal tally in the process in his most prolific season at the club and probably adding a couple of million to his transfer asking price. However, he almost ruined his decent performance by conceding a late penalty when wrestling Sven Schipplock to the ground, but Starke saved the day.
DF David Alaba, 7 -- The Austrian has already won six Bundesliga titles at the ripe old age of 24 and enjoyed a relatively untroubled afternoon in the Bavarian sunshine with the occasional burst forward from central defence, going close with a couple of headers.
DF Jerome Boateng, 6 -- Just his third league start of 2017 in an injury-hit season, fizzing a 30-yard strike narrowly wide in his best attacking moment.
DF Rafinha, 8 -- The twice-capped Brazilian replaced the skipper Lahm at right-back and revelled in his 200th game for the club, bursting forward at every available opportunity and providing a series of threatening crosses.
MF Joshua Kimmich, 7 -- Deputising for the retiring Xabi Alonso, 13 years his senior, the Wunderkind once again carried out the veteran Basque's role with poise and assurance on his 14th start of the season. Removed from the fray on 67 minutes, when it should really have been his midfield partner Sanches.
MF Renato Sanches, 5 -- A disjointed, edgy and hectic display on only his sixth start of the season (alongside 11 substitute appearances) -- the complete opposite to Kimmich in fact. Sanches toiled feverishly but still hasn't provided an assist nor scored a goal. At least the Golden Boy has the consolation of completing his first full 90 minutes of a difficult Bundesliga debut season.
MF Franck Ribery, 7 -- The 34-year-old provided his 11th league assist of a remarkably injury-free season for Bernat's opener. The Frenchman was denied the goal his efforts deserved as Muller's backside got in the way of a powerful shot just before the break. He also struck the post in the final minute following a rapid Bayern counter-attack. Boasting seven league titles, Ribery is set to become Bayern's longest serving player when the legend Lahm retires.
MF Douglas Costa, 5 -- Scored a fantastic winner in the reverse fixture at the end of last year, but cut a lethargic and forlorn figure, playing way below his potentially dazzling best. A typically powerful left-footed shot on 35 minutes, which fizzed inches wide proved his best action of note. All the signs and negative body language currently point to the Brazilian leaving the club in the summer if the right sort of financial remuneration arrives.
MF Thomas Muller, 6 -- Captain for the second home game in succession and saw a glancing header superbly tipped wide by the busy goalkeeper Esser. His day was sweetened by securing his sixth Bundesliga title.
FW Robert Lewandowski, 6 -- Bayern's top scorer went close to scoring with a trio of second-half headers but the 28-goal striker couldn't find a way past Esser. On a side note, Lewandowski has still scored two more goals on his own than relegated Darmstadt have managed all season.
MF Xabi Alonso, 6 -- Subdued after replacing Kimmich on 66 minutes as Bayern scraped a victory. Just two more games remain in Alonso's retirement countdown.
Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.