BERLIN – Bayern Munich beat Wolfsburg 2-0 to remain top of the Bundesliga on goal difference on Saturday, just ahead of Borussia Dortmund and Schalke.
All three are level on 40 points, but Bayern will be looking nervously over its shoulder after Dortmund brushed Hoffenheim aside 3-1 and then Schalke came from behind to win 4-1 in Cologne.
Dortmund was already 3-0 up at home through two goals from Shinji Kagawa and another from Kevin Grosskreutz, before league topscorer Mario Gomez’s 60th-minute strike allowed Bayern a sigh of relief.
Dutch winger Arjen Robben sealed the points in an edgy win for Bayern with a goal in injury time.
“We had a lot of chances and for me this win is fully deserved,” Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said. “The win gives us security so we can continue like this in the coming weeks.”
Lukas Podolski gave Cologne a fourth-minute lead in the late game, striking from 25 metres (yards) for his 15th goal of the season.
However, Ciprian Marica equalized in the 60th when Christian Fuchs sent in a fantastic cross, and the Romanian striker scored again 12 minutes later off the rebound after Klaas Jan Huntelaar hit the post.
Huntelaar made the game safe from the penalty spot in the 78th, after last defender Miso Brecko was shown a red card for bringing down Julian Draxler.
The Dutch striker then crossed for Marco Hoeger to give the score a flattering look in the 82nd.
“Typical FC Cologne syndrome,” Cologne goalkeeper Michael Rensing said.
Werder Bremen drew 1-1 with Bayer Leverkusen, Hamburger SV won 2-1 at Hertha Berlin, and Augsburg and Kaiserslautern played out a 2-2 draw in a relegation battle.
Kagawa deservedly put defending champion Dortmund ahead in the 16th, Sebastian Kehl robbing Sebastian Rudy of possession to allow the Japan midfielder to advance and slot the ball to the left of Hoffenheim keeper Tom Starke.
Jakub Blaszczykowski crossed for Kevin Grosskreutz to effectively kill the game in the 31st, when Hoffenheim looked bewildered in the face of Dortmund’s quick passing game.
Grosskreutz combined with Kagawa to set up his second goal with a delightful back heel in the 55th, Kagawa firing to the right for his sixth goal of the season.
Fabian Johnson pulled one back for Hoffenheim in the 63rd.
“We started very strongly but didn’t make the most of our many chances,” Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp said. “In the second half you saw what could happen if we hadn’t gone full throttle in the first half. It was an outstanding home game.”
As the goals rained in in Dortmund, fans were getting nervous in Munich.
Gomez should have scored in the 19th, when he beat the offside trap but then missed the ball with only the goalkeeper to beat from five meters (yards).
As their side laboured to create clear chances, supporters began whistling after half an hour.
The home side finally found the breakthrough when Gomez scored his 17th goal of the season at the second attempt after a Toni Kroos free kick, blasting the ball home from five meters (yards) after misplacing his initial header.
Wolfsburg’s late penalty appeals were waved away after Jerome Boateng’s arm got in the way of a free kick, before Robben inadvertently secured the win.
Substitute Ivica Olic lobbed the ball over Wolfsburg ‘keeper Diego Benaglio, with Felipe Lopes attempting a goalline clearance only to see the ball rebound off Robben and in.
“That was very important,” Olic said. “The first half was unbelievably difficult, but in the second half we deserved to win.”
In Bremen, Claudio Pizarro put Werder ahead with his 13th goal of the season in the 29th, but Stefan Reinartz salvaged a point for Leverkusen in the 57th.
Marcel Jansen and Mladen Petric put Hamburg 2-0 up at Hertha before the break, before Pierre-Michel Lasogga grabbed a late consolation for Berlin.
It was Hertha coach Michael Skibbe’s second loss in a row since taking over from Markus Babbel, who was sacked after falling out with club management.
“Only in the second half did we understand how you have to run and fight in the Bundesliga,” Skibbe said. “We already gave away the points in the first.”
In Augsburg, Canada defender Marcel de Jong scored his first Bundesliga goal to give the home side the lead in the fifth.
Defender Florian Dick equalized in the 25th before putting Kaiserslautern ahead in the 48th.
However, Augsburg striker Stephan Hain equalized 22 seconds after going on as a substitute in the 66th to lift his side off the bottom of the table.