BERLIN: Injury-ravaged Bayern Munich beat Hoffenheim 2-0 on Saturday, shrugging off a string of absences and their midweek Champions League defeat at Porto to close in on the Bundesliga title.
Sebastian Rode scored in the 38th minute and Hoffenheim’s Andreas Beck added an own goal in stoppage time as Bayern, with youngsters Mitchell Weiser
and Gianluca Gaudino in the lineup, opened a 13-point lead over second-placed VfL Wolfsburg, in action against Schalke 04 on Sunday, with five matches left.
The German champions, who host Porto on Tuesday in the Champions League quarter-final, second leg after Wednesday’s 3-1 loss, were without half a dozen starters, including Philipp Lahm, Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
But goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was in top form, spectacularly denying Anthony Modeste at point blank range after a defensive blunder by Brazilian Dante.
Rode then made the most of Bayern’s second chance of the game, curling his shot from the edge of the box past keeper Oliver Baumann.
Rode was lucky not to be penalised for bringing down Eugen Polanski in the area a minute later but there was no denying the dominance of Bayern, who came close again when Robert Lewandowski scraped the bar at the start of the second half.
They did get a second goal when Thomas Mueller charged into the box and cut the ball back to the unfortunate Hoffenheim captain Beck who slipped the ball into his own net.
Bayer Leverkusen crushed relegation-threatened visitors Hanover 96 4-0 to jump into third spot on goal difference after Borussia Moenchengladbach, also on 54 points, drew 0-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday.
Borussia Dortmund eased past visiting Paderborn 3-0, in their first game since the announcement that coach Juergen Klopp would leave at the end of the season, to keep their hopes of a Europa League place alive.
Last season’s Bundesliga runners-up Dortmund climbed to 36 points, in eighth, three off sixth-placed Augsburg.
Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2015