Some pundits put it down to the never-say-die attitude of Sir Alex Ferguson’s teams. Opposing fans attributed it to the bias of referees. Partisans crowed it was the luck of champions.
Bayern Munich were famously the victims of one dazzling passage of Fergie time in the Champions League final in 1999. Leading 1-0 in the dying seconds of the showdown, Bayern’s colours were being wrapped around the trophy. Two goals for United in stoppage time forced a refit of the cup, Bayern despair and Ferguson’s quip: “Football. Bloody hell.”
Fast forward nearly 18 years later and Bayern benefited from seemingly endless second half stoppage time to score an equaliser at Hertha Berlin on Saturday afternoon.
Hertha were seconds away from their first win over Bayern in 12 attempts when second half substitute Robert Lewandowski hit the leveller in the 96th-minute.
It was the Poland international's 24th goal in all competitons and the strike cancelled out Vedad Ibisevic's first-half opener at Berlin's Olympic Stadium.
Berlin coach, Pal Dardai, was angry about the six minutes of added time. "I think that was a bonus for Bayern," he fumed. "Sorry to anyone who might be offended, but after five minutes of added time, the game must be finished. This wasn't a cup game, we don't play 120 minutes."
The result extended Bayern’s lead over RB Leipzig to eight points but Ralph Hasenhuettl’s men can reduce the gap to five points provided they win at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Sunday.
Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti made four changes to the side that started the 5-1 destruction of Arsenal on Wednesday in the first leg of the Uefa Champions League last 16. Thomas Mueller, who scored the final goal in the rout at the Allianz Arena, came in at centre-forward for Lewandowski. But the 27-year-old’s struggle for form continued.
"Robert Lewandowski is a fantastic player and very important for us," said Ancelotti after Saturday's game. "We're happy, because it was a hard game. Hertha put in a good first half, but it was different after the break and we managed to create more pressure."
Borussia Dortmund rose to third following a 3-0 victory over Wolfsburg. Jeffrey Bruma’s own goal gave Dortmund the lead at half-time. Two goals in 11 minutes from Lukasz Piszczek and Ousmane Dembele sealed the win in front of reduced crowd.
Dortmund's south stand, nicknamed the 'Gelbe Wand' (Yellow Wall), which holds 25,000 fans, stood empty. It was a German FA punishment after hooligans attacked visiting RB Leipzig fans during Dortmund’s 1-0 win earlier this month.
Hoffenheim are fourth on goal difference following a 2-0 win at home to bottom side Darmstadt. Eintracht Frankfurt dropped to fifth after their shock 2-0 defeat at home to second from bottom Ingolstadt.