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Sports

Bayern Secures Top Slot in Bundesliga

Bayern Munich just managed to turn their final match ahead of the winter break to their advantage. It was a close shave, but after a lot of mud, sweat and tears, they emerged with the honorary title of winter champions.

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Munich's Guerrero (left) loses the ball to Stuttgart defender Stranzl

VfB Stuttgart had what looked like an insurmountable 2-0 lead going into the game's last 25 minutes, but Bayern Munich went on to tie the game 2-2 and claim its 13th lead going into the winter break -- it's gone on to win the German championship 11 of the past 12 times it held the half-season lead.

Stuttgart opened the scoring in the 29th minute when Silvio Meissner put in the first half's only goal, a fitting half-time result as Stuttgart kept control during the first 45 minutes.

Twenty minutes into the second half Stuttgart struck again. This time it was forward Kevin Kuranyi who tapped the ball home unopposed after German national team goalie Oliver Kahn fumbled and gave up an easy rebound.

Fußball-Bundesliga, FC Bayern München gegen VfB Stuttgart

Stuttgart's defender Mathieu Delpierre, right, goes for a header with Munich's striker Roy Makaay

But whatever Bayern coach Felix Magath told his players in the locker room had an effect. Even down by two goals, they were the more aggressive side in the second half.

Not many scoring chances

In a match that seldom moved out of midfield, there were few good chances on goal and no truly outstanding individual players for either side.

It was Bayern's Claudio Pizarro who brought Munich back into the match when he scored in the 67th minute.

Then with only two minutes left in the game, Paulo Guerrero tied the game for the Bavarians, and put an end to Stuttgart manager Matthias Sammer's hope of winning in Munich -- something he hasn't been able to do as a player or coach.

The tie keeps Bayern three point ahead of third place Stuttgart and ahead of second place Schalke 04 on goal difference, both teams have 34 points going into the six-week winter hiatus.

VfL Wolfsburg makes a comeback

On Sunday Wolfsburg notched up a monumental 5-0 home win over Arminia Bielefeld, jumping back up to fourth place in the Bundesliga as a result. Thomas Rytter got the ball rolling when he scored the opening goal just 14 minutes into play.

By half-time Diego Klimowicz had netted a header and Thomas Brdaric had scored twice, putting them 4-0 ahead. Martin Petrov got the fifth from the penalty spot in the 67th minute. The win came as a massive boost for Wolfsburg who had slipped down to seventh place after a run of three successive league defeats.

In the other Sunday match, Bayer Leverkusen drew 1-1 away to Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Freiburg holds Schalke to a draw

Fußball-Bundesliga FC Schalke 04 - SC Freiburg

Schalke's Mike Hanke knows his team's 1-1 tie isn't enough to move into first place

Schalke could have nudged Bayern from top spot but were left cursing a late lapse in concentration after a 1-1 home draw against bottom side SC Freiburg.

Schalke led for 86 minutes thanks to Mladen Krstajic's 24th minute header, but Lebanese international Roda Antar struck with four minutes remaining to grab a share of the spoils.

This time last season Werder Bremen was tops, before going on to lift the German crown, this winter break they remain in fourth place and six points adrift of leaders.

A 1-1 tie was the best Werder could do at home against Kaiserlautern. Ivan Klasnic scored for last year's champs and Carsten Jancker put the ball in for 9th place Kaiserlautern.

In the middle of the table an early goal from Markus Schroth was enough for 12th place Nuremberg to take a 1-0 win against Mainz. One point is all that seperates Nuremberg from their rivals this weekend.

Fußball-Bundesliga: Hannover 96 - Hertha BSC Berlin

Berlin's Nando Rafael (left) fights for the ball with Hanover's Steve Cherundolo

Hertha Berlin won a tough 1-0 game against Hanover 96 on a goal from Nando Rafael. Both teams are tied on points, but Berlin's better goal difference puts it in a fifth place and a comfortable spot in the table's top third.

Three goals come in Hamburg

Hamburg took three points from Bochum thanks to first half goals from Sergej Barbarez and Colin Benjamin. Bochum's Tommy Bechmann scored in the game's dying minutes, a goal that looked good on the scoreboard but doesn't help Bochum get out of 16th place.

In the fight against relegation, Borussia Dortmund failed to advance with a 1-1 draw at fellow strugglers Hansa Rostock.

Fußball-Bundesliga, Hansa Rostock gegen Borussia Dortmund

Hansa Rostock player Marcus Allbaeck (rear) and Borussia Dortmund player Sebastian Kehl challenge for the ball

Dortmund's Sebastian Kehl took advantage of a lucky deflection in the 40th minute to bring his team level with Hansa, which took the lead after Swedish international Markus Allback headed Hansa ahead in the 32nd minute.

Hansa had lost all eight of their home matches in the league but broke that luckless sequence with a point against Dortmund.

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