Bayern Munich and Netherlands great Arjen Robben has decided to end his playing career at the age of 35.

Robben enjoyed a glittering career at the top of European football, winning a host of trophies for PSV, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern.

But he has called time on his career instead of finding a new club following his release by Bayern, insisting this is a "permanent" decision.

"As everybody knows, I took some time after my last match for Bayern Munich to make up my mind for the future. And now I have decided to end my career as a professional player," Robben said in a statement.

"This has been without a doubt the hardest decision I had to make in my career, a decision in which 'heart' and 'head' bumped into each other.

"The love for the game and the conviction that you can still take over the world, versus the reality that it doesn't always go like you want it to and that you're no longer a 16-year-old boy, who doesn't know what it's like to be injured.

"At the moment I'm fit and healthy and, as a fan of many other sports, I'd like to keep it that way. My quitting is permanent, but it's all right this way."

It was at Chelsea – whom he joined in 2004 – where he established himself as one of world football's great promises, helping the club to back-to-back Premier League triumphs in 2004-05 and 2005-06 and an FA Cup win the following season.

His subsequent move to Real Madrid was less successful on a personal level, though he did win LaLiga in 2007-08.

Bayern snapped him up in 2009 and, though injuries were a regular occurrence, he still managed to enjoy a sparkling 10-year stay at the Allianz Arena.

He won eight Bundesliga titles in that time, plus the Champions League in 2012-13, making 309 appearances across all competitions.

Despite the injuries, Robben still managed to score 144 times for Bayern, including six in 19 matches in his final campaign.

The winger had been tipped to return to his first professional club Groningen after his Bayern contract expired, but he has since opted to end his career altogether.

"In December 2000 my adventure started as a player with Groningen," Robben's statement continued. 

"The career that followed after that is something I only could have dreamt back then. Groningen, PSV, Chelsea, Real Madrid and eventually Bayern Munich, and last but not least, my time with the Dutch national team.

"It might be a cliche, but there really is no better thing than playing for your own country. In the end I decided to quit in 2017 after 96 international caps.

"I got to play six big tournaments and was the captain during my last years with the team. Altogether it's an unforgettable time that I'll always cherish.

"It is too early to look back into the details of my career, but for now it's pride and thankfulness which dominates my feelings. I want to thank everyone who contributed to this from the bottom of my heart.

"My parents, my sister, family, friends, my personal coaching team, all of the clubs, team members, coaches, journalists and fans. Everyone who supported me for all those years and made me into the player and the person I am today.

"I have lived 19 years for my passion and tried to make the most of it. This asks a certain mentality and it for sure took a lot of energy, especially when things don't go as you want them to be and when you have to fight back after difficult moments. Top athletes are being known for their selfish attitude and I have definitely not been an exclusion to that.

"Therefore, I'd like to thank my family for their unconditional support, understanding and love. It's time for a new chapter and I'm looking forward to spending more time together with my wife and kids and to enjoy together from all the good things that still have to come for us."

On top of a glorious club career, Robben also won 96 caps for his country in 14 years, netting 37 Netherlands goals.

Franck Ribery has told Bayern Munich they need to splash the cash ahead of the new Bundesliga season.

Bayern broke their club record to sign France defender Lucas Hernandez from Atletico Madrid, while Benjamin Pavard has also arrived from Stuttgart.

But the Bundesliga champions have yet to bring in a replacement for Ribery, as well as fellow veteran winger Arjen Robben, who also departed after helping the club clinch a seventh straight title.

Bayern have confirmed Leroy Sane as a transfer target but have been unable to seal a deal with Manchester City for the Germany international, while Chelsea have reportedly rebuffed new efforts to sign Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Ousmane Dembele is also said to be on Bayern's shortlist but Barcelona are reported to have turned down a first offer for the France forward, while a representative for the player told Sky Germany there was "no chance" of his client joining Niko Kovac's squad.

Yet Ribery has urged his old club to spend heavily on reinforcements as they look to hold off the challenge of Borussia Dortmund again.

"Bayern needs quality, you have to invest!" Ribery told Bild. "I am very excited about what they do.

"Only with Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman it is perhaps too little to go into the new season.

"Sane would be a player who brings Bayern forward. Skills, can play on the right and left side, I'm curious to see if he will really decide for Munich and fancy the Bundesliga."

Ribery, 36, continues to consider his options having previously been linked with a surprise switch to Premier League new boys Sheffield United.

"Maybe they [Bayern] call me again, if there is no other solution," Ribery joked. "No, seriously: The chapter at Bayern as a player for me has ended fantastically in May.

"There are many good offers from Europe, but I also have to look at the family, my children. If you've been at Bayern for so long and it's your second home, moving away from here is not easy."

It is July 1, meaning players who had run down their contracts at former clubs are now officially free to move.

Some, such as Aaron Ramsey, Diego Godin and Adrien Rabiot have already signed with new clubs, while the likes of Ander Herrera seem to have transfers all but finalised.

However, there are plenty of players yet to have secured their next destination.

 

Aaron Ramsey

Wales international Ramsey called time on his 11-year stay in February, signing a pre-contract agreement with Serie A champions Juventus.

While Massimiliano Allegri was in charge when Ramsey agreed to join, it is Maurizio Sarri who will have the midfielder at his disposal for the upcoming season and, after an injury-hit end to 2018-19, the 28-year-old will be eager to quickly cement his place in the Bianconeri's starting XI.

Diego Godin

A mainstay in Atletico Madrid's defence since 2010, Godin announced his departure from the Wanda Metropolitano in May.

Inter were always favourites to sign the 33-year-old and that deal was officially announced on Monday, with the Uruguay international penning a three-year contract at San Siro.

Adrien Rabiot

France midfielder Rabiot did not play for Paris Saint-Germain in 2019 due to a dispute over his contract situation.

The 24-year-old has now officially left the Ligue 1 champions for their Serie A counterparts Juventus, who announced an agreement on Monday.

Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery

After defining an era at Bayern Munich, Robben and Ribery have officially left the Allianz Arena.

Ribery has been linked with a move to the A-League, while PSV are one of the clubs to have declared an interest in Robben. However, neither of the veteran wingers have found a new home yet.

Ander Herrera

Manchester United tried in vain to keep hold of former Athletic Bilbao midfielder Herrera, who made 132 Premier League appearances after joining the club in 2014.

A move to Paris Saint-Germain is expected to go through in the first week of July.

Daniel Sturridge

Sturridge was a key figure in Liverpool's title challenge in 2013-14 but injuries have gradually taken their toll on the forward, who managed four goals from 27 appearances in all competitions last season.

Divock Origi usurped Sturridge as Jurgen Klopp's first-choice back-up striker and the 29-year-old is now on the lookout for a new club, with Rangers – managed by Liverpool icon Steven Gerrard – reportedly leading the chase for his signature.

Mario Balotelli

Former Manchester City, Liverpool and AC Milan striker Balotelli signed a six-month deal with Marseille in January and went on to score eight Ligue 1 goals.

The 28-year-old has not extended his stay at Stade Velodrome, though, and a return to Serie A is an option, with Parma having confirmed their interest.

Arjen Robben is a target for PSV and the former Bayern Munich winger has already been contacted by the Eredivisie club, according to Mark van Bommel.

Robben left Bayern at the end of 2018-19, bringing his decade-long association with the Bundesliga giants to an end.

The 35-year-old is now a free agent, and boss Van Bommel – who guided PSV to a second-placed Eredivisie finish last season – made no secret of his desire to see Robben return to a club he played for between 2002 and 2004.

However, Van Bommel accepts it may still prove difficult to bring in the ex-Netherlands international.

"There's been more than one call," Van Bommel told Voetbalzone. "But it's very simple, he's the one who has to make the decision.

"He knows that we would love to have him here and we now have to give him the time he needs to make a decision.

"I am not going to put any pressure on him to force a decision. It's an important decision for him.

"He could retire or he could continue to play. He could join us or he could go elsewhere. He will have received loads of offers."

Should Robben arrive, it could well be as a replacement for Hirving Lozano, who looks set to leave PSV after another stellar campaign, with Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain reportedly leading the chase for the Mexico forward.

Another player who looks set to depart PSV is full-back Angelino, who has been heavily linked with a return to Manchester City, as Pep Guardiola looks to add a left-back to his squad.

And Van Bommel acknowledged PSV have a fight on their hands if they are to keep hold of the 22-year-old, who left City in 2018.

"There is a chance he could leave, yes," Van Bommel said when asked about Angelino's future.

"We would rather not allow anyone to leave, but there's not an awful lot you can do with certain players. Ideally we would like to hold on to players."

Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said Leroy Sane would be Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery's successor if he decided to leave Manchester City for the Bundesliga champions.

Sane – who is contracted to City until 2021 – has been linked with a move to Bayern following back-to-back Premier League titles in Manchester.

With Bayern greats Robben and Ribery leaving Allianz Arena, Germany international forward Sane has emerged as a target for the Bavarian giants.

And Rummenigge talked up a move for Sane, who left boyhood club and Bundesliga side Schalke for City in 2016.

"You shouldn't forget that he still has two years contract and that Manchester City don't just sells their players because they need to," Rummenigge said.

"This will be difficult. But I think that the player has to be convinced to have the joy for playing here at Bayern.

"He would be the successor of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery which is very interesting. As a player, this would be a good incentive I think."

France internationals and World Cup winners Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard have already agreed to join Bayern in the off-season, however, James Rodriguez could be set to leave Munich.

Colombia international James swapped Real Madrid for Bayern on a two-year loan deal in 2017, with a €42million option to buy.

But James struggled with injuries and game time under head coach Niko Kovac in 2018-19 – the 27-year-old starting just 13 of his 20 Bundesliga appearances.

Asked about James, Rummenigge said: "We'll definitely meet next week and decide how to proceed. We have to put all the options on the table. And then decide together how to deal with these things, which now still have a question mark, so that they become exclamation marks.

"You can imagine if James does not play continuously from the beginning, that is not his claim, he is a superstar and of course he always wants to play. Now he has been injured in the last few weeks and we must not forget that. We will find a solution in line with him, I can promise you that."

When pressed on whether Bayern could buy James permanently before reselling him, Rummenigge replied: "No, that's not the style of Bayern. We don't want to do any human trafficking to earn anything from this story. Bayern has never done this before."

Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben have been named on Bayern Munich's bench for the DFB-Pokal final against RB Leipzig, with Manuel Neuer starting.

Long-serving duo Ribery and Robben came on as substitutes against Eintracht Frankfurt in their final Bundesliga appearances for Bayern last time out, both scoring in a 5-1 win that sealed a seventh-successive league crown.

And both players will again begin among the replacements on Saturday in what is their farewell Bayern game, head coach Niko Kovac sticking with Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry.

They are joined on the bench by Rafinha, who is also calling time on his Bayern career after the clash at the Olympiastadion.

Another Bayern stalwart, Neuer, does start, after he returned from injury against Eintracht, with Kovac making just one alteration to his XI - the injured Leon Goretzka making way for Javi Martinez.

Leipzig drew 0-0 with Bayern in the penultimate Bundesliga fixture of the season, and Ralf Rangnick has made two changes from his starting XI in that fixture, with Tyler Adams and Kevin Kampl coming in for Diego Demme and Konrad Laimer.

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will return from six weeks out injured to start the DFB-Pokal final against RB Leipzig on Saturday, Niko Kovac has confirmed.

Neuer was substituted in the second half of the 4-1 Bundesliga victory over Fortuna Dusseldorf on April 14 after aggravating an existing calf issue.

The captain was initially ruled out for two weeks but has not played since, with Bayern keen not to rush him back into action.

However, Neuer trained this week and Kovac revealed the World Cup winner will be back between the posts against Leipzig in Berlin.

"I can say Manuel will play," the coach told a news conference on Friday. "He is our captain and has done well this season. He is a cornerstone of our team."

Saturday's match will be the last opportunity for departing stars Rafinha, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben to feature for Bayern.

However, Kovac insists he cannot allow that to play into his thinking when it comes to team selection.

He said: "It will be the last competitive match for these three top players, but we have a very difficult task - as we did against Eintracht Frankfurt [in the Bundesliga last weekend].

"It will be a very difficult decision for me, because I know how hard it is. But we have players who did a great job in the second half of the season, so I have to give them the confidence that they deserve.

"I can only choose 11 players, but everything is possible [on Saturday]. Everyone can play - even the three that are leaving Bayern."

Kovac and Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge have insisted he will remain as coach next season, yet the former Frankfurt boss was not willing to discuss his future.

"We have a cup final ahead of us," he said. "We should talk about football. I want to throw all my energy into the team and the job. My future is secondary."

Outgoing Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery was in a celebratory mood after farewelling Allianz Arena with a seventh successive Bundesliga title.

Ribery – like fellow veteran Arjen Robben – will leave Bayern at the end of the season with his contract due to expire and Saturday's trophy-sealing victory over Eintracht Frankfurt provided the perfect home finale.

The 36-year-old Ribery came off the bench and scored in Bayern's 5-1 rout of Eintracht Frankfurt, which ensured Niko Kovac's side finished two points clear of Borussia Dortmund.

After 12 years and nine Bundesliga trophies, Frenchman Ribery savoured his final Allianz Arena appearance ahead of next week's DFB-Pokal decider against RB Leipzig in Berlin.

"My whole family, my kids, my wife, my parents, my wife's parents and my cousins have come from France for this special moment," Ribery said.

"It was hard but the main thing is we're champions. It's my last great moment here at the Allianz Arena, with my colleagues and the fans.

"It's not as if I've been here two or three years, I've been a Bayern player for 12 years. I've had many great moments here but my best season was 2013. What we achieved then was incredible." 

Robben also enjoyed a memorable home farewell – the 35-year-old substitute scoring in the second half to add to the title celebrations.

The former Netherlands international, who claimed an eighth league crown, added: "Many emotions run through your body after a match like this, you can't put it into words. It's something you have to experience yourself.

"But the best thing is that many lads who played with me during my time at Bayern were here today. I fought for my comeback for five months, and today was the reward."

Niko Kovac said Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben shaped Bayern Munich and the Bundesliga as the head coach heaped praise on the departing duo.

Playing their final league match for Bayern, star pair Ribery and Robben scored as the German giants sealed a seventh success league crown by routing Eintracht Frankfurt 5-1 on Saturday.

Ribery and Robben – who will leave on free transfers at the end of the season with a DFB-Pokal final against RB Leipzig to come – came off the bench and signed off from the Allianz Arena in trademark fashion.

Speaking afterwards, Kovac hailed the veteran duo, telling reporters: "I made two notes today in the meeting. One was that we want to become champions, of course. But we wanted to go one better and give the two [Robben and Ribery] a nice farewell.

"That they do it the way Alex Meier did last year... They come in and scored both. You cannot plan that better. And that shows with what passion the two and Alex in the last year have played.

"That pleases me very much. Because they have shaped the Bundesliga for 10 years. They shaped this club. It was clear they would come in.

"It was hard to tell them that they did not play from the beginning, because we footballers have all been in this situation before. But I had to make a sporting decision.

"And the two who started [Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry] have done well. Especially in the second half of the season. It would also have been unjust if I had left these two out."

Despite helping Bayern retain their Bundesliga crown ahead of a potential domestic double via next week's DFB-Pokal, Kovac's future remains unclear.

There have been reports Bayern – who lost to Liverpool in the Champions League last 16 – will replace the former Eintracht boss after just one season, regardless of whether the Bavarian side beat Leipzig in Berlin.

Asked about his position, Kovac said: "I talk to my boss. I have three [bosses]. It's like that when you talk, you can hear out in which direction it goes. I think I interpreted that correctly. Therefore, I assume that I will hopefully fulfil my contract, which I still have two years here."

"We are German champions," he added. "I think that will eventually be forgotten. You always talk only about what is being told. You have seen it: You can put something into the world and all of a sudden everybody believes that. Like throwing a fishing rod and the fish bite into. That's what I said.

"It is not about me. It's all about togetherness and to pay the other the necessary respect. If you do that, then we all would feel better. It is not always a taking, but also a giving in both directions."

Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben scored on their final league appearances for Bayern Munich as they wrapped up a seventh consecutive Bundesliga title with a 5-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

Niko Kovac's side had been locked in a pulsating race for the title with Borussia Dortmund but went into the final game of the season knowing a point would almost certainly see them retain their title.

Kingsley Coman set them on their way after just four minutes, although the visitors levelled entirely against the run of play in the 50th minute through Sebastien Haller.

Parity did not last long, however, as David Alaba and Renato Sanches scored in quick succession before Ribery and Robben came off the bench to wrap up the title in style in the final 20 minutes.

Coman ran onto Thomas Muller's pass and slotted past Kevin Trapp from 12 yards for his sixth Bundesliga goal of the campaign, and Bayern could have been out of sight within the opening 15 minutes had Trapp not produced a hat-trick of excellent saves to deny Serge Gnabry, Alaba and Robert Lewandowski.

Gnabry had a strike ruled out by VAR after Lewandowski had strayed into an offside position in the build-up, while Jonathan de Guzman crashed against his own crossbar as Bayern continued to pile forward at every opportunity.

Those missed chances came back to haunt them five minutes after the restart, when half-time substitute Haller prodded home from after David Abraham's effort had bounced back off the crossbar.

Normal service was resumed just three minutes later, however, when Alaba raced in to tap home after Trapp had kept out Muller's effort from distance.

Sanches – who had replaced the injured Leon Goretzka in the first half – then put the result beyond doubt after 58 minutes, cutting in from the left and firing through Trapp for his first Bundesliga goal.

Ribery then signed off from the Allianz Arena in trademark fashion in the 72nd minute, jinking between two defenders and clipping superbly over Trapp for an emotional fourth.

Not to be outdone, though, Robben tapped in from Alaba's cross 12 minutes from time to kick-start the celebrations.

Niko Kovac is not interested in speculation he could be sacked by Bayern Munich if they fail to retain the Bundesliga title.

Bayern must win at home to Kovac's old club Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday to guarantee they cannot be caught by Borussia Dortmund.

They could still complete a domestic double as Kovac has led Bayern through a rocky DFB-Pokal campaign to a final against RB Leipzig.

Regardless of the potential for Bayern to end the campaign with two trophies, reports have claimed Kovac's job is on the line this weekend.

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag, who previously coached Bayern's reserve team, is among those linked with succeeding Kovac.

But the Croatian is ignoring speculation about his future ahead of Saturday's game, which will be the last at the club for Arjen Robben, Rafinha and Franck Ribery.

"These are side issues that I'm not interested in," Kovac told reporters on Thursday when asked about rumours he could be sacked. 

"We now have two tasks to focus on, we could become champions, our full focus is not on what's being told, I'm not interested.

"I have a contract that will run for another two years and I want to fulfil that, we have developed well and we only lost twice after the Dusseldorf game."

With so much at stake Bayern could give Robben, Ribery and Rafinha the perfect farewell by claiming the title in front of their own fans.

But Kovac was unwilling to divulge whether he would play the long-serving trio, while James Rodriguez and captain Manuel Neuer are ruled out due to injury.

"We do not have to say too much about the three of them, they did a lot for the club," Kovac added.

"I will not tell you who's playing, we want to get the fans excited, it's a final, I'm pretty sure our team will feel the extra motivation. We hope the spark will jump us over the line.

"Javi Martinez will train again tomorrow. [Joshua] Kimmich had a reduced workload today, but everything is fine. Thiago Alcantara is doing well too and already took part in some of yesterday's session.

"Manuel Neuer made good progress. He's on the road to recovery, but he won't play on the weekend. James Rodriguez is also still out."

Arjen Robben has admitted he could retire when he leaves Bayern Munich at the end of the season.

The 35-year-old winger is set to depart the Allianz Arena after a decade and is yet to make a call on his next move.

Persistent fitness issues have hampered Robben's final season in Bavaria, though he has still been linked with the likes of Inter and former clubs PSV and Groningen.

The Champions League winner revealed in January that several clubs had made contact, but all options remain on the table.

"I'm late in making a decision, but that has to do with my injury. I wanted to get back on the pitch and then think about my future," Robben told a news conference on Tuesday.

"I hope to make a decision within one or two weeks, but I can't promise anything.

"It's not an easy choice to make. The whole package has to be right, not just in a footballing sense but also for my family.

"The easiest thing to do would be to stop. That is also an option for me, but I'm not sure whether I will do that."

Robben recently returned from a calf injury to make his 700th professional appearance and will bow out from Bayern with an eighth Bundesliga title if the leaders avoid defeat at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on the final day of the season.

"I've already played Saturday's game three times in my head," the former Netherlands international said.

"It would be absolutely incredible [to finish with the title]. That's a dream, but you have to make dreams come true. I am convinced that it works."

Robben will be joined in leaving Bayern by Franck Ribery and experienced full-back Rafinha, who has become the latest long-serving squad member to confirm his impending departure.

The 33-year-old Brazilian said his fond memories of a lengthy stay with the German giants will not be sullied if second-placed Borussia Dortmund pip them to top spot.

"We've been together for so long. That's the most important. Not the last game or the last title," Rafinha said.

"The friendship we have here is the most important thing. That's why my mother said that I should say thank you for everything, to all employees and players. These people are very important to me."

Bayern Munich full-back Rafinha has confirmed he will leave the Bundesliga champions at the end of the season.

The Brazilian joined from Genoa in 2011 and quickly established himself as an important first-team player.

His opportunities have been limited under Niko Kovac this term, however, and he has made just nine Bundesliga starts.

He joins veteran wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery in bidding farewell to the Allianz Arena ahead of the 2019-20 campaign.

"The eight years have been wonderful," he told a media conference. "I've had some great moments. The treble in 2013 was special. All things come to an end eventually."

He will hope to play a part in Bayern's final Bundesliga game of the season at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

Bayern need to beat Kovac's old club at the Allianz Arena to defend their title once more and hold off the challenge of Borussia Dortmund.

Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman have the ability to succeed departing duo Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, says Bayern Munich's former striker Claudio Pizarro.

Ribery and Robben are both leaving the Allianz Arena at the end of the season, having spent a combined 22 years at the club.

Bayern made a public play to sign Chelsea teenager Callum Hudson-Odoi in the January transfer window, having a series of bids for the winger rejected by the Premier League side.

Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has indicated Bayern could make another attempt to bring in England international Hudson-Odoi, but Pizarro feels Ribery and Robben's replacements may already be at the club.

"I think they are able to replace them," Pizarro, now in a fourth stint at Werder Bremen, told Omnisport.

"You reach a certain point where you've got to stop [talking about Robben and Ribery] and new people arrive.

"This is normal and these two are very good players. They will have a good development and do good things for Bayern.

"I would like to play with them [Robben and Ribery] but I don't know what they are going to do. I wish them all the best for their future, as I said. I hope they find something they really want to do after Bayern.

"I know Arjen a bit better to be honest, because I was at Chelsea for one year together with him. Since then we had a very good relationship on and off the pitch. I was very happy when he returned to the pitch again after his injury.

"Both are special players on the wing. They would be important for any team. They are good at one-on-ones and how they score goals is essential for any team. It was an honour for me to play with them and I wish them all the best."

Pizarro scored a potentially decisive goal in the title race, his late leveller earlier this month earning Werder a 2-2 draw at home to Borussia Dortmund, who are now two points behind Bayern going into the final weekend of the Bundesliga season.

Werder, meanwhile, wrap up their campaign at home to RB Leipzig, with Florian Kohfeldt's side able to finish as high as seventh in the table.

"Kohfeldt is very good in leading the team," Pizarro, 40, said. "He is a coach that can speak very well to a player. He gives a lot of confidence to the player. I think the player returns this confidence on the pitch.

"He is very good in tactics, he does that really well. And I think he will be a good coach, he is heading in the right direction. With more experience he will become one of the greatest coaches in Germany."

Asked if Kohfeldt, 36, is a potential successor to Germany coach Joachim Low, Pizarro added: "It could happen. We will see. Now he is still at Werder.

"He still has some years here at Bremen where he can gain more experience. This is very important, I think. In the end he will decide on what's best for his career."

Niko Kovac was satisfied as Bayern Munich took another step towards the Bundesliga title by beating Hannover, whose coach Thomas Doll was angered by Jonathas' red card.

League leaders Bayern were 2-0 up at half-time at the Allianz Arena on Saturday thanks to goals from Robert Lewandowski and Leon Goretzka, with Doll introducing Jonathas at the break.

The striker converted a penalty harshly awarded for a handball by Bayern defender Jerome Boateng but two bookings in quick succession then saw him dismissed.

Franck Ribery came off the bench to score a late third and secure victory for Bayern, moving them temporarily five points clear of closest rivals Dortmund.

"In the first 20 minutes, Hannover's defense were well marshalled but we had possession, although not too many goalscoring situations," said Kovac. 

"After the 1-0 opener, we had a very good chance and we could have gone in 4-0 at half-time, then we'll have some rest.

"And out of the blue something happened, which was a penalty, but in my view it was not [a penalty], but we did our job."

Doll also disagreed with the decision to punish Boateng for inadvertently blocking a cross with his arm, the spot-kick given after a VAR check.

But it was Jonathas who drew the ire of the Hannover coach, with his side now needing to win their last two Bundesliga games to have any chance of securing survival.

The striker was booked for clashing with Bayern goalkeeper Sven Ulreich after scoring the penalty, then within four minutes he was shown a second yellow card for catching Joshua Kimmich in the face.

"In the first 20, 25 minutes we did very well, then wave after wave rolls over you," said Doll. "We did not defend the goal for 1-0 well, because we have to be closer. But the boys did very well, [goalkeeper] Michael Esser did a great job.

"Out of the blue, that was a phantom penalty, as we've seen so often the last few weeks. 

"The fact that we lose a player made me very, very angry, so you have to show a bit of tact as a referee."

Ribery's late goal enabled Kovac to bring on Arjen Robben for his first appearance since November and his 700th career game for club and country.

"These two have left their mark on this club in the last decade and they deserved it," Kovac said of the veteran wing duo. 

"I would have liked to give them more minutes, but the game didn't allow it. It was amazing how the crowd reacted."

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