The hosts gave a good account of themselves despite playing the majority of the match with 10 men, but could not make the most of late chances as Heynckes' men take the points
Bayern Munich have moved three points clear at the top of the Bundesliga after a Mario Gomez double gave the Bavarian giants a 2-1 win at 10-man Stuttgart on Sunday.
Seven minutes into the game, the hosts punished the wasteful visitors as Christian Gentner made it 1-0. Gomez atoned for an earlier miss on 13 minutes, however, as he restored parity with his first Bundesliga goal since November 6. Gomez came up with the goods again shortly before the hour mark, producing another clinical finish to seal the win and give the league leaders a cushion at the top.
Bayern started the match in excellent form and should have taken the lead on five minutes as Gomez brilliantly played Robben in on goal, but the Dutchman's return pass somehow found its way between the striker's legs, and the chance went begging.
The Swabians responded immediately, with Molinaro making inroads down the left flank, before sending a cross in towards Martin Harnik, whose knock down to Gentner was slid home to put the hosts ahead.
The visitors quickly found their way back into the game, and Gomez had a glancing header miss narrowly wide, before redirecting Rafinha's deflected cross into the net at full stretch in the 13th minute. The scorer came close once more before setting up Thomas Muller, who had a deflected strike saved by Sven Ulreich.
The game changed entirely on the half-hour mark as Cristian Molinaro was sent off for a second poor challenge on Arjen Robben, after which VfB dug deep in defence. However, the visitors did not threaten as much as they would have liked given their superior numbers, while at the other end, Timo Gebhart's volley flew just over the bar as the first half was brought to a close.
Bayern began the second period determined to make the most of their numerical advantage, and Toni Kroos forced Ulreich into a smart diving save with a rifled shot from 20 yards out in the 50th minute after a glorious passing sequence. Kroos was at it again seven minutes later, releasing Lahm towards the left byline, and the skipper’s cutback towards Gomez was stabbed home to give the visitors the lead.
With a goal and a man advantage, Jupp Heynckes men began to tighten the noose, and penned Stuttgart back in their own half for long spells. Bruno Labbadia threw caution to the wind, and brought on Pavel Pogrebnyak and Cacau for the home stretch in an attempt to turn the tide in his side’s favour.
Both substitutes came close to making a decisive impact within minutes of their introduction. Pogrebnyak came within inches of steering home a loose ball in the box, before a suicidal back-header by Daniel Van Buyten in the 80th minute left Cacau one-on-one with Neuer, but the Brazilian’s finish was put about a foot too high.
Stuutgart threw everything at Bayern in the time that remained, but their final ball was lacking and the visitors managed to see off the late charge. Bayern now hold a three point lead over Dortmund and Schalke with 34 points, while Stuttgart remain in seventh place with 22 points.