Bayern Munich stretched their league unbeaten streak to an impressive 34 games with a 4-1 victory over Mainz. But Munich were made to work for the three points after the visitors grabbed a first-half lead.
Bayern were the overwhelming favorites in their Round 9 home match against Mainz, but they were forced to do without European Footballer of the Year Franck Ribery with an ankle injury. Munich seemed to lack a little creativity, enjoying up to 80 percent of possession, but finding it difficult to break down the visitors.
In the 42nd minute, central defender Dante had to be substituted out injured, and Bayern coach Pep Guardiola switched to a back three. The hosts were immediately punished. A long ball found young Mainz forward Shawn Parker, who showed incredible poise, rounding Manuel Neuer and staking the visitors to an unlikely lead.
Guardiola brought Mario Götze on for defender Rafinha at half-time. But it was Arjen Robben knotting things in minute 50. Mainz were too sluggish in setting an offside trap, and the Dutchman caught them out.
Only seconds later a series of quick passes saw Robben finding Thomas Müller, who slotted home from 12 meters out to restore order to Bayern's universe. In the 70th minute, Mario Mandzukic sealed the comeback win with a low shot from the middle. Götze assisted on that goal and on Robben's. And Müller converted a late penalty to complete the scoreline.
"We always have problems in the first half at home, but I'm sure we'll improve that quickly," Guardiola said after the match. "I can't tell people that they can only come here for the second half."
Bayern dodge a bullet - thanks to a key substitution - and reclaim top spot in the table.
Dortmund and possibly Leverkusen also win
Dortmund wasted no time establishing themselves against Hanover. In minute 4, 21-year-old left back Erik Durm linked up with Marco Reus in a nice one-two. Durm was brought down in the box, and Reus calmly converted the penalty.
But profligacy has been a problem for Jürgen Klopp's men this season, and they didn't manage to add to their lead - despite 18 shots and lots of added time. Hanover were unlucky not to get a point.
"We got off to a good start, but we kept getting weaker," Klopp said. "We can play a different brand of football, and I'm sure we will."
Still, the 1-0 win was enough to push Dortmund past Leverkusen into third-place.
On Friday, Leverkusen racked up what may or may not be a 2-1 win over Hoffenheim. The winning goal - a header by Stefan Kiessling - actually hit the side netting before squirming through a hole in the net and into goal. Referee Felix Brych awarded it anyway.
Hoffenheim have appealed the result and are hoping that the match will be replayed. The German football association, the DFB, says it will render a decision the week after next.
See-saw match in Braunschweig
Eintracht Braunschweig welcomed Schalke on the heels of their first season win. And the hosts grabbed an early lead against the run of play in minute 20. Striker Orhan Ademi showed some nice ball control and put the ball past reserve keeper Ralf Fährmann. Ten minutes later, the Royal Blues responded. Adam Szalai tested Daniel Davari with a short-tange header, and 18-year-old midfielder Max Meyer pounced on the rebound.
But Schalke sleepwalked after the restart and were caught out on the break at the hour mark, allowing Karim Bellarabi to rekindle the pandemonium among the home fans. But this Braunschweig lead lasted no longer than the first one. The hosts failed to clear a Schalke corner, and 18-year-old Leon Goretzka poked home from inches. Schalke then spoiled the upset in injury time. Braunschweig again had trouble clearing the ball, and Roman Neustädter bundled home to secure three lucky points for the Royal Blues.
"I'm very happy about this fortunate and very hard-fought win," said Schalke coach Jens Keller, who pointed out that, due to injuries, he was forced to field a very young squad.
Hertha go fourth
In Saturday's late match, Hertha Berlin hosted Borussia Mönchengladbach with fourth place in the table at stake. The match was a return for Gladbach coach Lucien Favre and playmaker Raffael, who both began their careers in Germany in the capital.
The Foals were the slightly better side in the first phase of the match, but Hertha's defense bent without breaking. And the Old Lady grabbed the lead in minute 36. Defender Sebastian Langkamp took a knee where it hurts most, and Adrian Ramos headed in the resultant free kick.
Max Kruse drew a fine save from Hertha keeper Thomas Kraft just before the break, and that would be the final chance of the match, as Berlin killed the clock with remarkable ease for over 45 minutes. The 1-0 win takes Hertha, who played in the second division last season, past Schalke to the final Champions League spot in the standings.
At home against Nuremberg, Frankfurt needed 50 minutes to break the ice. Vaclav Kadlec found the net to put the hosts in front. But they failed to get an insurance goal and paid the price in minute 86, when a Nuremberg pass split their back four, and Josip Drmic made it 1-1.
Meanwhile there were no goals in Bremen versus Freiburg. The match was notable mainly for being the first goalless draw in the Bundesliga this season - with 79 league games played to date. Nuremberg, Freiburg and Braunschweig stay in the bottom three in the table.
On Sunday, Hamburg host Stuttgart and Augsburg lock horns with Wolfsburg.