Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga title celebrations have been delayed by at least a few days despite victory over Mainz. Of their closest rivals, Dortmund and Schalke did their second-place ambitions no harm as each won.
Bayern eventually overcame Mainz 2-0 but did not get the results elsewhere to confirm their likely title triumph, with Dortmund easing past Hannover 3-0 and Schalke defeating Eintracht Braunschweig 3-1.
Elsewhere, in a classic relegation six-pointer, Stuttgart got a crucial 1-0 win over Hamburg, while Wolfsburg and Augsburg drew 1-1. Borussia Mönchengladbach continued their revival, defeating Hertha Berlin 3-0.
It was the Bayern match that most had their eye on, however, and those watching on witnessed a laudable effort from Mainz to stifle the champions in waiting for more than 80 minutes.
Mainz had a hatful of chances to take the lead, with Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting going closest when he hit the crossbar just after half-time.
But it was to be Bayern who made their chances count. First, on 82 minutes, Bastian Schweinsteiger gave Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross the treatment it deserved when he nodded past Loris Karius in the Mainz goal. Mario Götze got his side’s second four minutes later, poking home an unselfish cutback from Franck Ribery.
While the champagne remained on ice, Bayern might only have to wait three days to lift the Bundesliga title, needing just a win over Hertha Berlin to confirm their defense of the league.
Battle for second continues
In Hannover, the hosts started impressively and hit Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller’s upright in one of their early forays forward. But instead, it was the visitors who took the lead as half time loomed.
It came from an unlikely source, with Mats Hummels poking home a knockdown from fellow central defender Sokratis on 43 minutes. It was perhaps more than Dortmund deserved, and certainly less than Hannover’s efforts warranted.
But, as Mainz also found out, football is a merciless beast, and Hannover were to end the day with a 3-0 loss after Robert Lewandowski (on 52 minutes) and Marco Reus (on 90) also found the net.
Lewandowski's goal was particularly memorable. The Bayern Munich-destined forward seemed to pose little threat when Jonas Hoffman's hopeful ball sent him away on the left, and Hannover’s defense seemed to be of a similar mind.
That was their first mistake. Their second was the inability of five players to dispossess Lewandowski as he cut inside and into the area, allowing him to eventually lash a powerful shot past Ron-Robert Zieler. Reus' neat finish as injury time kicked in added a postscript to the scoreline that perhaps flattered his side.
Schalke were convincing 3-1 winners over Eintracht Braunschweig, with Leon Goretzka, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Adam Szalai scoring for the Royal Blues. Benjamin Kessel’s 81st-minute goal gave Schalke a few moments of nervousness, but Schalke were good enough to hold on and stay within a point from second-placed rivals Dortmund.
Hamburg claim six-pointer
Things at the bottom remain tense, as Stuttgart picked up a crucial 1-0 win over Hamburg. Stuttgart deserved the three points, claimed when substitute Alexandru Maxim tapped home in the 69th minute. Their job was made easier, however, but the dismissal of key Hamburg midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu 16 minutes earlier for a second yellow card.
The result elevates Stuttgart out of the relegation zone and up to 15th on the table. Hamburg - attempted to stave off a first-ever relegation - move the other way, falling into 16th and the bottom three.
Elsewhere, Wolfsburg and Augsburg drew 1-1. Tobias Werner’s eighth goal of the season put Augsburg ahead, but veteran Ivica Olic’s header on 81 minutes ensured the hosts claimed a point. Wolsburg moved into sixth on the table as a result, with Augsburg two points and three places behind.
Foals win second on trot
In the later game, a three-punch combination from Borussia Mönchengladbach inside 12 first-half minutes ensured they claimed a 3-0 win over visiting Hertha Berlin.
There was little to raise the eyebrows outside the goals, which began on 28 minutes when Patrick Herrmann's persistence on the right flank and subsequent cross ended with a well-hit Juan Arango goal.
An Adrian Ramos own-goal four minutes later sent Hertha to their knees, and attacking midfielder Raffael delivered what was ultimately the knock-out punch in the 40th minute when he completed a lovely Mönchengladbach move with a deft chip over visiting goalkeeper Thomas Kraft.
The goal would have come as some satisfaction for Raffael - not only did it ice the result for Mönchengladbach, but it also came against the team featuring younger brother Ronny.
The Foals' three points moved them into fifth on the table, and continued their return to form after seven winless games to start the second half of the season.