AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Monday 4 March 2013
Last update 4 March 2013 2:03 am
BERLIN: Germany striker Mario Gomez’s first half goal gave Bayern Munich a 1-0 win at strugglers Hoffenheim yesterday to claim their 10th successive victory and 20th Bundesliga win from 24 games this season.
Although 47 points separate the two teams in the table, Hoffenheim, second from bottom, worked hard to contain the league leaders before succumbing to their 16th league defeat of the season.
They have won now only one of their last 14 games, including two draws and suffered 11 defeats.
Defeat at Greuther Fuerth next Saturday will put Hoffenheim bottom of the Bundesliga and in pole position to be relegated.
In contrast, Bayern have had a week to remember after knocking holders Borussia Dortmund out of the German Cup last Wednesday and they remain 17 points clear at the top of the table.
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes made five changes from the team, which beat Dortmund 1-0 in Munich’s cup quarterfinal.
Reserve goalkeeper Tom Stark starting for Manuel Neuer, Germany striker Mario Gomez started for Mario Mandzukic and Swiss star Xherdan Shaqiri took Toni Kroos’ place in the middle of midfield.
Germany’s Jerome Boateng started at center back for Belgium’s Daniel van Buyten, while France star Franck Ribery took his place on the left wing from Arjen Robben, left out of the match day squad despite scoring Wednesday’s winner.
Despite the gulf separating the teams in the league, Hoffenheim made a bright start and contained Bayern’s attack until the 38th minute.
Igor de Camargo’s mistimed pass was snapped up by Bayern’s Boateng, who fired in a cross for Ribery to headed back across goal to Gomez, who rolled his shot past Hoffenheim goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.
Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger clattered the crossbar twice with shots as Bayern pushed for the goal which would have put the game beyond doubt.
On Saturday, hosts Borussia Dortmund warmed up for Tuesday’s Champions League clash at home to Shakhtar Donetsk with a 3-1 win over Hanover 96 to stay second.
Poland striker Robert Lewandowski netted twice having only been allowed to play on Friday after the German Football Association (DFB) reduced his three-match ban.
Bayer Leverkusen remain third, just a point behind Dortmund, after scoring twice in the last eight minutes to come from behind for a 2-1 win at home to VfB Stuttgart.
Schalke, who host Dortmund in next Saturday’s Ruhr derby, are up to sixth after they beat Wolfsburg 4-1 with 19-year-old man-of-the-match Julian Draxler scoring two and setting up one.
The Royal Blues are still in Champions League contention after their last 16, first leg 2-2 draw at Galatasaray with the return in Gelsenkirchen on March 12.
Bremen suffered their third straight defeat, dropping to 13th, after they suffered a 1-0 win at home to Augsburg, who remain third from bottom, while Nuremberg moved up to 12th with a 1-1 draw at home against Freiburg.
Hamburg drop to seventh after their 1-1 draw at home against bottom side Fuerth.
On Friday, Moechengladbach went eighth after picking up their first win in seven games thanks to Dutch striker Luuk de Jong’s goal with a 1-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt, who remain fourth despite having now gone five games without scoring.