No stopping Bayern, Week 18 Report

Bundesliga

Moenchengladbach 0 Bayern Munich 2

Pep Guardiola’s team made the perfect start to 2014, picking up an impressive win away at this seasons surprise package, Borussia Moenchengladbach.

After eight straight victories at Borussia Park, The Foals slipped to a draw before Christmas, and it was to be more dropped points here, despite a positive start .

Max Kruse nearly gave the home side the lead, when he beat Dante, but planted a header straight into the palms of Manuel Neuer. They would live to rue that miss, as just seven minutes went by before Götze slotted past ter Stegen to put the European Champions in front.

Fans got what they expected as the game opened up, Neuer tipping a free-kick over from the energetic Arango, while ter Stegen watched both Shaqiri and Götze put efforts the wrong side of the post.

It was Favre’s team that went into the break on top, again Neuer being called into action to stop both Kruse and Arango, who looked most likely to equalise. However, their efforts were all in vain on 53, when a mix-up at the back saw the ball cannon off Xhaka’s arm, as the referee pointed to the spot.

Müller slotted home to make it two, and took the game away from the Foals. Herrmann nearly offered a bit of hope when his effort beat Neuer, but the German stopper was left thanking the woodwork as it came to his rescue.

The win saw Bayern go 10 points clear ahead of their game in hand with Stuttgart on Wednesday, while Gladbach moved one point ahead of Dortmund before Saturday’s round of games.

Wolfsburg 1 Hannover 3

Die Roten tasted away day victory for the first time in nine attempts on Saturday when they beat in-form rivals Wolfsburg. Korkut had set his team up to catch the Wolves on the break, and they did that in style before the 30 minute mark, Diouf flicked on for debutant Rudnevs, who chipped the ball over Benaglio with aplomb.

Hannover fans must’ve sensed the worst though just seven minutes later, when Zieler failed to hold Arnold’s powerful strike, Olic was there to slot home.

96 showed character though after the restart, and ex-Dortmund midfielder Leo Bittencourt responded first to another Diouf lay off, to smash home to make it 2-1.

They had to ride out their luck though, the Wolves peppered them in the second half, but some resolute defending meant to scales were tipping towards Korkut’s side. The victory was then sealed 20 minutes from time, Bittencourt again the man, latching onto Huszti’s ball before firing home from a tight angle.

Despite a poor run leading to Slomka’s departure, that win leaves the Reds just nine points from the European spots, and 96’s fans will be hoping that is the start of an upturn in form.

Stuttgart 1 Mainz 2

Stuttgart surrendered an early lead on Saturday as Mainz took home all three points and keep themselves well in the running for a Europa League place.

Thomas Schneiders side took the lead when Karius could only parry, leaving Abdellaoue to stab home to give them the lead. The O-Fives had barely troubled Ulreich during a quiet first half, but were gifted an equaliser just before the break. The defence failed to clear their lines, leaving Okasaki well placed to score his ninth of an impressive campaign.

The home side were again the better side in the second period, but you could tell it was a side void of confidence winning just two of seven home games so far. That confidence will have slipped further when Benedikt Saller reacted quickest to a hopeful ball forward, and smashed home from an acute angle with just three minutes left on the clock to take the points.

Nurnberg 4 Hoffenheim 0

Gertjan Verbeek saw his team take three points for the first time in 18 attempts on Saturday in tremendous fashion, thrashing Hoffenheim on home turf.

Nurnberg were determined to heap more misery on the visitors who had been beaten by basement club Braunschweig last time out, and it was clear their luck wasn’t on, when a cruel deflection took Chandler’s effort out of the reach of Casteels.

That wasn’t to be the only goal of the first half though, Swiss striker Drmic was on hand to give his side a 2-0 lead, prodding home from inside the area after some hesitant defending.

Markus Gidsol’s team will have taken heart from Hannover’s comeback versus Nurnburg recently, where they were 3-0 down. However, there seemed no danger of a repeat on the cards here, especially when Ginczek pounced on a through ball to make it three just a few minutes after the restart.

It was a day to remember for Der Ruhmreiche, and Drmic put the icing on the cake when he chested the ball and fired into the net to make it four with 70 gone.

The win actually puts Verbeek’s side four unbeaten now, and after a huge 11 draws, they will hope this victory is the start of a run that could fire them up the table.

Freiburg 3 Leverkusen 2

Felix Klaus scored a stoppage time winner to give Freiburg back-to-back victories and move them out of the bottom three on Saturday afternoon.

Leverkusen themselves were in a rough patch, suffering consecutive defeats, but looked to have banished those demons when Lars Bender scored a long-range strike after just four minutes of this encounter.

In fairness, they should’ve been two in front minutes later, when Son was sent through on goal. He rounded the ‘keeper, squared the ball for Emre Can, whose shot came back off the stanchion.

Streich’s side hit back though in some fashion, Mehmedi curling a shot right into the postage stamp to equalise. That didn’t last too long though, Rofles rose highest to a cross to power a header home, sending Hyypia’s side into the break ahead.

Schmid levelled in the second half through a pinpoint free kick, and he turned provider in the final minute, teeing the ball for Klaus to make it three straight defeats for the second placed side.

Dortmund 2 Augsburg 2

Sven Bender scored for both sides on Saturday, and also lost Blaszczykowski for the remainder of the campaign on what turned out to be a frustrating weekend for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Reus’ curled the resulting free kick into the path of Bender, who made no mistake, and should’ve set BVB up for a confident win. Polish hitman Lewansowski wasted a good one-on-one chance, while Mkhitaryan also should’ve done better from inside the area.

Despite the visitors failing to register any worthwhile attempts, the one-goal lead is always a precarious one, and that proved the case when Bender went from hero to zero, directing a cross past Weidenfeller to level the match.

It was clear that Weinzierl’s team were looking to settle for that draw, and their resolute defending was only undone by a sterling strike from Sahin, his free-kick flying into the top corner.

It was perhaps fitting that the man who would settle the draw would be Ji Dong Won. Having signed a pre-contract agreement to join Klopp’s side in the summer just 10 days ago, he came off the bench to score just with his first touch, heading home Hahn’s cross.

Augsburg made sure to hold on this time though, and Reus and Aubemeyang were both denied late on, as BVB fell to their fourth game without a win.

Frankfurt 1 Hertha 0

After Nurnburgs win earlier in the day, The Eagles became the only side without a home win, but that stat was quickly altered, as Alexander Meier scored the solitary goal to take the three points.

Few predicted this after a 6-1 humiliation suffered in the meeting on the opening day, but Frankfurt fans will be over the moon with a victory that gave them breathing space between them and the bottom three.

Allagui twice wasted chances to hand his side a lead, but Meier’s shot past the outstretched Kraft ensured a 1-0 lead at the break.

If anyone was going to find a goal it would be Allagui, but he wasn’t at the races, heading over from a good position again with a quarter of an hour left.

Bremen 0 Braunschweig 0

Despite a flurry of chances in both halfs, this battle ended goal-less leaving Braunschweig bottom of the table.

Young Norwegian forward Havard Nielsen was thrown straight into the mix, and had the opportunity to be an instant hit with the Lions fans, but missed a hat-trick of chances in a first half that the away side dominated.

A covering of snow greeted the players for the second period, and Bremen started to show their quality, Bargfrede struck the post, and the away side cleared from the line, before Elia had a goal chalked off for offside.

Bargfrede had two more attempts before the game was out, but without registering an attempt in the second half, the Lions were more than happy to take a point with them.

Hamburg 0 Schalke 3

The Royal Blues stormed to a three-nil victory on Sunday as they continued their assault on the top four.

On a day where the five teams above them collected four losses and a draw, a win was paramount in their bid for Champions League football, and it was Huntelaar who got the ball rolling, heading home Farfan’s cross to make it 1-0 after 34 minutes, when in truth they probably could’ve been three-up already.

Two goals in five minutes clinched the victory in the second half, first Farfan got his goal, pouncing on a mistake to roll into an unguarded net, before Meyer powered home a shot via a deflection.

Hamburg nearly had something to cheer, but Badelj saw his effort cannon back off the post, meaning Keller’s side returned to Gelsenkirchen with three points.

STANDINGS

140128 - Bundesliga

League table courtesy of FIFA.com

BradSmith

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