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Dortmund need win to save their season

 By Mark Lovell

Bayern Munich fired by rust-free Thomas Muller, Robert Lewandowski

Bayern Munich shrugged off evident ring rustiness with a hard-fought 2-1 victory at mid-table Hamburg on their return to Bundesliga action after a month's hibernation.

In a far from vintage performance, Robert Lewandowski was the match-winner, firing a goal in each half as the champions secured their 16th win in league 18 games to open up an 11 point lead over nearest challengers Borussia Dortmund on resumption after the winter break.

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Player ratings (1-10; 10=best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):

GK Manuel Neuer, 7 -- Could do little to prevent Hamburg's equaliser from Aaron Hunt's exquisitely delivered free kick. On a bitterly cold evening in Northern Germany, the most dangerous opponent on the night were the sub-freezing temperatures.

DF David Alaba, 7 -- Stepped in as if he's never been away on his first Bundesliga outing since late November when the Austrian was on the receiving end of a hefty tackle by fellow Bayern employee Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, currently on loan at Schalke. Bayern have won all 13 Bundesliga games in which Alaba has started this season and his trademark free-kick, which hit the crossbar in the second half, was a reminder of his brilliant set-piece ability.

DF Holger Badstuber, 6 -- Back after winter hibernation to make only his third league start of the season. With Boateng likely to be out for the foreseeable future, Badstuber will need to step up to the plate ... if he can stay fit.

DF Jerome Boateng, 6 -- Injured his groin just after the HSV equaliser, picking up an injury which looked similar to that of Mario Gotze's last year. His fellow German international is still out of action and Bayern will have their fingers crossed that it isn't as serious. With an in-form Juventus next up in the Champions League, Boateng's absence would be a real body blow to treble-seeking Bayern.

DF Philip Lahm, 7 -- The skipper was as rock solid and dependable as he has been for the last decade and more. Although, he did blot his copybook with a rare yellow card, his second of the season. Lahm has only 22 cautions in 348 Bundesliga games.

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Along with Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, left, came out of the winter break flying high.

MF Xabi Alonso, 6 -- Alonso will probably not claim the dubious honor of an own goal after Hunt's superb free-kick for HSV's equaliser. Like fellow World Cup winner Lahm, the Spaniard picked up a yellow card for a late foul in a scruffy performance from the bearded maestro.

MF Thiago, 6 -- The Spaniard was just getting going as the Bundesliga came to an abrupt end last year. On the evidence of this display, Thiago will need some more time to get back to his most inventive.

MF Kingsley Coman, 7 -- Coman tested Rene Adler in each half and was a bright spark and constant threat throughout with his pace and trickery. Looked to have picked up a knock late on but had to stay on as Pep Guardiola had used up all his substitutes.

MF Douglas Costa, 6 -- Like Alaba, Costa missed the last month prior to the winter break after picking up a nagging muscle injury at Schalke. The Brazilian had his moments on his return to the fray and volleyed narrowly over the bar in the second half. Hoffenheim will have to watch Costa closely next up as he's sure to be better for the much-needed game time.

FW Thomas Muller, 8 -- Another priceless display from the German, setting up both goals on the night. Muller was recklessly fouled by Adler on the edge of the box to earn the penalty, while his tame shot just after the hour mark was deflected past the helpless goalkeeper by his strike partner Lewandowski.

FW Robert Lewandowski, 8 -- Efficient. A brace took the his tally to 50 competitive goals for Bayern, also making it 17 in 17 Bundesliga games this season. Far from his prettiest goals, but they all count -- his first a penalty and a second was a fortuitous deflection past a stranded Adler.


DF Javi Martinez, 6 -- Replaced Boateng at the back just after the shock equaliser in a role the Spaniard had grown increasingly accustomed to before the winter break. Remarkably, Bayern's record signing has now racked up 50 Bundesliga wins in only 58 appearances, the quickest ever to this milestone in Bundesliga history.

MF Arturo Vidal, 6 -- A tenacious substitute for Muller with 22 minutes remaining to keep up his proud record of featuring in every league game this season.

MF Arjen Robben, NR -- Came on for Costa to provide fresh legs in midfield as Bayern saw the game out with the minimum of fuss.

Mark Lovell covers Bayern Munich for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter: @LovellLowdown.


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