Relentless Bayern sink Hoffenheim with single Gomez goal | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 03.03.2013
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Relentless Bayern sink Hoffenheim with single Gomez goal

Bayern Munich got their 17th clean sheet of the season away at lowly Hoffenheim. Unusually, it was only a narrow win for the prolific Bavarians, with 1-0 the final result. Meanwhile Düsseldorf drew 1-1 with Mainz.

The Bundesliga relegation battle now in full swing, and Augsburg's win over Bremen on Saturday left Hoffenheim some five points from safety - so Sunday was not the ideal day to see the Bayern Munich team bus pulling up in their car park.

Desperate to turn a miserable season around, Hoffenheim coach Marco Kurz made six changes to the team that had lost to Augsburg in the last match day. Their only hope was that Bayern Munich might have one eye on their upcoming Champions League game against Arsenal.

Mario Gomez of Bayern Munich celebrates a goal against TSG Hoffenheim during their German first division Bundesliga soccer match in Sinsheim, March 3, 2013. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (GERMANY - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) DFL RULES TO LIMIT THE ONLINE USAGE DURING MATCH TIME TO 15 PICTURES PER GAME. IMAGE SEQUENCES TO SIMULATE VIDEO IS NOT ALLOWED AT ANY TIME. FOR FURTHER QUERIES PLEASE CONTACT DFL DIRECTLY AT + 49 69 650050

Only Gomez's toe-poke separated the two sides

Despite Bayern's commanding lead after the first leg of that fixture, Jupp Heynckes did indeed rotate his squad, bringing in Jerome Boateng, Xherdan Shaqiri and Mario Gomez for Daniel Van Buyten, Toni Kroos and Mario Mandzukic. Manuel Neuer was rested to give former Hoffenheim goalkeeper Tom Starke an outing. The Bavarians also had to make do without Arjen Robben, who had suffered a calf injury.

And for over half an hour, the home side held the Bayern boa constrictor at bay. Despite living off scraps of possession, Hoffenheim made their set-pieces dangerous, and US midfielder Daniel Williams had two shots that skimmed the outside of Starke's post.

But Bayern found their inevitable breakthrough in the 38th minute with a classic poacher's goal from Mario Gomez. The big German striker miscontrolled a knockdown from Franck Ribery on his knee, but just managed to stretch to poke the ball past Heurelho Gomes, the Hoffenheim goalkeeper, on loan from London side Tottenham Hotspur.

Hoffenheim continued to press in the second half, but that left gaps at the back for Bayern. Despite two woodwork rattling free-kicks from Bastian Schweinsteiger, Bayern could not extend their lead, thanks mainly to some superlative keeping from Gomes.

In the end, Hoffenheim could not do not do enough at the other end to deny Bayern their 20th win of the season, and their 17th clean sheet - two more and they will have equalled their own record.

Düsseldorf share points with Mainz

In Sunday's late game, ninth-placed Mainz travelled to Fortuna Düsseldorf, five places and six points below them, to claim a slightly lucky 1-1 draw. Like all polite guests, Mainz brought a gift with them, which Bo Svensson handed over in the sixth minute - the Danish defender headed an entirely innocuous cross from Andreas Lambertz, too high for the intended recipient Dani Schahin, past the wrong-footed goalkeeper Christian Wetklo.

Fußball Bundesliga 24. Spieltag: Fortuna Düsseldorf - FSV Mainz 05 am 03.03.2013 in der Esprit-Arena in Düsseldorf (Nordrhein-Westfalen). Fortunas Axel Bellinghausen (M) und Adam Bodzek kämpfen mit dem Mainzer Radoslav Zabavnik (l) um den Ball. Foto: Caroline Seidel/dpa (Achtung: Hinweis zur Bildnutzung! Die DFL erlaubt die Weiterverwertung von maximal 15 Fotos (keine Sequenzbilder und keine videoähnlichen Fotostrecken) während des Spiels (einschliesslich Halbzeit) aus dem Stadion und/oder vom Spiel im Internet und in Online-Medien. Uneingeschränkt gestattet ist die Weiterleitung digitalisierter Aufnahmen bereits während des Spiels ausschliesslich zur internen redaktionellen Bearbeitung (z.B. via Bilddatenbanken).

Mainz held off a strong Fortuna to claim an away point

Suitably emboldened, Fortuna took the game to Mainz throughout the rest of the first half, catching their opponents with several breaks. Axel Bellinghausen came the closest in the 29th minute after he slipped the ball just past the far post from a tight angle.

But then, after an ugly clash of heads forced Mainz to take off Radoslav Zabavnik for Marco Caligiuri, the substitute fought his way to the by-line to the left of Fortuna's goal, and lofted a cross that goalkeeper Giefer should have cut out with ease. Instead, Ivan Klasnic found himself with the task of nodding the ball in from barely two centimeters out in the 40th minute.

Both sides had chances in the second half, with Bellinghausen's marauding runs and crosses causing regular panic in the Mainz defense. At the other end, a beautiful curled effort from Caligiuri was only kept out by Giefer's finger-tips.

But while Fortuna had all the best chances, they couldn't capitalize on them - Rafael volleying a late one just wide after a fantastic long ball from Bellinghausen. The point lifted Mainz one place to eighth, while Düsseldorf overtook both Bremen and Nuremberg to claim 12th place.

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