Bayern wins on Bundesliga return in silent stadium

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Robert Lewandowski of Munich celebrates his side's opening goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Union Berlin and Bayern Munich in Berlin, Germany, Sunday, May 17, 2020. The German Bundesliga becomes the world's first major soccer league to resume after a two-month suspension because of the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Hannibal Hanschke, Pool)

Defending champion Bayern Munich returned to action Sunday with a 2-0 win at Union Berlin as the restart of German soccer continued in empty stadiums.

Players' shouts echoed off the rows of concrete terracing around Union's stadium as Bayern moved closer to an eighth straight league title.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was cautiously optimistic after the league avoided major incidents on its reopening weekend.

“It's important that we are satisfied with it but that we don't ease up now,” Rummenigge told broadcaster Sky, adding that soccer should stay “disciplined” to keep German politicians on side. “It allows colleagues in other countries to hope that they will also be allowed to start playing again some time.”

As at all games in the Bundesliga this weekend, players wore masks when not on the field and substitutes sat apart from one another in the stands. Police were stationed outside stadiums to deter any gatherings.

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said it was “a question of motivation, of attitude” to succeed without fans in the stadium and that the game seemed to take longer than usual. “The minutes are always very long at a game without fans," Neuer said.

Bayern midfielder Thomas Müller wondered if his team had “a small advantage” because Union couldn’t play in front of its normally fervent home crowd. Across eight Bundesliga games Saturday and Sunday, only one ended with a win for the home team, Borussia Dortmund, which beat Schalke 4-0 on Saturday.

Robert Lewandowski gave Bayern the lead with a penalty in the 40th minute following a mistimed challenge by Union's Neven Subotic. It was Lewandowski’s 40th goal of the season in all club competitions. Union held off Bayern for most of the second half but Benjamin Pavard scored a second in the 80th.