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Bayern defeat Wolfsburg 2-1 in bid for Bundesliga title defense

FRANKFURT, Germany--Bayern Munich began the defense of its Bundesliga title on Friday by beating Wolfsburg 2-1 with goals from Thomas Mueller and Arjen Robben shortly before and after the interval.

Bayern dominated the match until a goal by Ivica Olic in the 52nd minute that breathed new life into Wolfsburg's game. Wolfsburg wasted a tremendous late opportunity to earn a point and Robben hit the crossbar in stoppage time.

“It would have been difficult for us if they had made it 2-2,” Bayern director Matthias Sammer said.

Both teams were missing several injured players. Bayern was without Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger, among others. But central defender Holger Badstuber returned to the Bundesliga after missing 20 months with a knee injury and two operations.

Bayern coach Pep Guardiola gave 17-year-old Gianluca Gaudino, son of former Germany international Maurizio Gaudino, his Bundesliga debut and the teenager had a good game, nearly setting up a goal.

New Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski failed to score and was substituted late in the second half.

Guardiola had predicted that his team would face a difficult first half of the season due to the many injuries and because many players were still getting into shape after the World Cup.

But he started with five of his six Germany players, plus Robben, who also played throughout the World Cup with third-placed Netherlands. And Robben was one of the top players in the season opener.

Lewandowski set up Mueller early but Mueller tried to play back the ball instead of shooting and the Wolfsburg defense cleared.

Gaudino then chipped a pass and Lewandowski attempted an acrobatic first-time effort but Wolfsburg's goalkeeper Max Gruen palmed the ball over.

Bayern opened the scoring in the 37th when Robben faked Luiz Gustavo and sent in a low cross that was knocked in from close range by Mueller.

Mueller began the move that led to Bayern's second goal in the 47th, feeding Lewandowski, who launched Robben. Josuha Guilavogui appeared to move aside and Robben had the space he needed to slot the ball inside the post.

Wolfsburg got back into the match when Olic picked up a throw-in and fired onto the underside of the crossbar and into the net of his former team.

Junior Malanda should have salvaged the point for Wolfsburg in the 79th. He raced in to connect with a low cross from Maximilan Arnold but the ball hit Bayern and Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's leg and bounced off the crossbar. It fell to Malanda but he hit it with his shin and managed to miss the target from just one meter (yard) out.

Bayern's substitute Sebastian Rode found the net in the 84th but the play was called offside in a questionable decision.

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