Match-winner Joshua Kimmich admitted holders Bayern Munich were made to work for their 2-1 win at Lokomotiv Moscow on Tuesday which secured a record 13th straight Champions League victory for the German giants.
After Leon Goretzka gave Bayern an early lead in Russia, Lokomotiv deservedly equalised when midfielder Anton Miranchuk finished off a counter-attack on 70 minutes.
However, Germany midfielder Kimmich made sure Bayern stayed top of their group when he turned just outside the area and fired a superb strike into the bottom corner on 79 minutes.
“We had to work hard for the victory,” Kimmich told broadcaster DAZN.
“They didn’t do badly, but we still should have decided the game earlier.
“They had some dangerous counters, but in the end we are happy to win despite not being at our best.”
Lokomotiv squandered a golden chance early on when forward Fyodor Smolov headed straight at Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer from point-blank range.
Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski shot wide before the European champions took the lead with a goal created by France internationals Corentin Tolisso and Benjamin Pavard.
Midfielder Tolisso passed across the penalty area to Pavard, whose cushioned volley picked out Goretzka to expertly head inside the near post on 13 minutes.
Bayern’s French pair linked up to great effect again to set up a chance for Kingsley Coman, who hit the post on 25 minutes.
However, Lokomotiv started to find space to exploit down the flanks, with Smolov and left-back Maciej Rybus forcing Neuer into saves at the end of the first half.
Bayern head coach Hansi Flick made a double substitution at the start of the second half with Germany winger Serge Gnabry — making his first appearance since recovering from coronavirus — and Javi Martinez introduced.
Bayern came within centimetres of a second goal just before the hour mark.
Gnabry fired in a quick cross, but Kimmich’s shot clipped the boot of Lokomotiv centre-back Slobodan Rajkovic and goalkeeper Guilherme gratefully gathered the loose ball.
At the other end, only a good challenge from David Alaba prevented Lokomotiv striker Ze Luis finishing a counter-attack.
When Lewandowski went down in the area on 65 minutes, referee Istvan Kovacs pointed to the spot, but the decision was overturned when the VAR spotted an offside in build-up.
Lokomotiv grabbed the deserved equaliser when Ze Luis burst free down the right and squared to Miranchuk who turned home.
The Cape Verde international wasted a huge opportunity to put Lokomotiv in front when he opted to go for goal himself rather than square for an unmarked Rifat Zhemaletdinov.
Kimmich made the hosts pay the price moments later when he received the ball outside the penalty area, taking one touch to control and drive home.
Bayern captain Manuel Neuer said the team’s belief got them through.
“We always believe in ourselves,” Neuer told DAZN.
“I think we’ve shown the spirit in our team over the last few weeks and months, but we can’t rely on that, we always have to start from scratch.
“You could see it wasn’t easy tonight.”