A win at home for Borussia Dortmund has secured their second straight Bundesglia title two games before the end of the season.
Borussia Dortmund successfully defended their Bundesliga title from last season with a 2-0 win over Mönchengladbach, locking up the championship with two games left in the season.
Despite fighting for third place in the table and the automatic spot in the Champions League that goes with it, Gladbach were overwhelmed by Dortmund, who could already taste the title coming into the match and didn't want to wait any longer to make it official.
"I think there has seldom been a more deserving champion than Borussia Dortmund this season," said Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp
Twenty-three minutes in, Marcel Schmelzer put an excellent free kick in front of the goal that found Ivan Perisic, who headed it into the goal off a deflection from Gladbach keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.
Just before the one-hour mark, striker Robert Lewandowski started a counterattacking run that ended with a quick pass to Shinji Kagawa in the middle, who beat ter Stegen and put Dortmund up 2-0. Sensing the inevitable, the sound of cheering and singing hardly abated from the Dortmund fans after that.
Earlier in the day, Bayern Munich - and Franck Ribery, specifically - spoiled an early title celebration for Dortmund. The Frenchman scored a goal in the 91st minute, securing a late 2-1 win for Bremen. Had Bayern lost or drawn, the title would have been Dortmund's a few hours earlier.
"I'm glad Bayern beat Bremen,"said Dortmund's chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke after the match. "Otherwise we couldn't have celebrated like this today. It was a perfect Saturday. To deliver such a concentrated performance shows the quality of this side."
Although Ribery sucked the wind out of a pre-game title celebration for Dortmund fans, Bremen's Brazilian defender Naldo shares some of the blame. He scored an own-goal in the 75th minute, bringing Bayern even at 1-1. Naldo also scored Bremen's only goal of the match off a corner kick in the 51st minute.
Dortmund's title defense wasn't the only early Bundesliga certainty to be determined on Saturday. Despite a win for Kaiserslautern, they became the first relegation victims of the season.
This was more or less already decided coming into their game against second-to-last Hertha Berlin on Saturday, but Kaiserslautern were determined not to go down without a fight.
They were the only team to score in the first half of Saturday's early games, heading into halftime with a 2-0 lead thanks to Oliver Kirch and Andrew Wooten's first goals of the season.
Despite Hertha getting one back in the second half, Kaiserslautern's lead held and they went on to win 2-1 - their first win since October. It was not enough to save them from relegation, however, as Cologne - third from last in the relegation playoff position - secured a 1-1 draw against Stuttgart. That puts them seven points ahead of Kaiserslautern, who have now lost any chance of climbing out of the basement. The loss leaves Hertha with 28 points, two behind Cologne.
Leverkusen's lucky Leno
Bayer Leverkusen secured an important three points in their battle for a spot in next year's Europa League with a 1-0 win over Hoffenheim. Andre Schürrle scored in the 79th minute to put the visitors ahead, but it was the heroics of Leverkusen's keeper, Bernd Leno, that preserved the victory.
Hoffenheim were awarded a penalty in the 84th minute when Vedran Corluka was whistled for a hand-ball in the area. Hoffenheim's Sejad Salihovic, who came into the game a perfect seven of seven in penalty kicks this season, took the kick, but Leno guessed correctly and made the save.
Leverkusen are in sixth place and would currently gain a spot in the Europa League qualification round, but are only two points behind Stuttgart, who hold the automatic Europa League spot in the table.
Mainz sticking around
The final match of the early games on Saturday was Nuremburg against Hamburg, which ended in a 1-1 tie.
Mainz and Wolfsburg played to a scoreless draw in Friday night's Bundesliga contest. The single point means Mainz have virtually guaranteed that they will avoid relegation and stay in the Bundesliga next season.
On Sunday, Augsburg - who are on the cusp of the drop zone - host a Schalke side trying to defend its spot in the Champions League from being taken by Mönchengladbach. Hanover 96, fighting for a Europa League spot as well, play at home against SC Freiburg.
Author: Matt Zuvela
Editor: Andrew Bowen