By Ryland James, AFP
BERLIN–Bayern Munich went 10 points clear in the Bundesliga on Friday with a convincing 2-0 win at third-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach to extend their record unbeaten run to 42 matches.
Germany midfielder Thomas Mueller created Bayern’s first for Mario Goetze after just seven minutes then netted a second-half penalty as the Bundesliga resumed after the winter break. “Today we were pushed to our limits, Bayern dominated us,” admitted Gladbach striker Max Kruse. “At the moment, they are a class apart and they showed that they want to be German champions as soon as possible.” With their main rivals all playing on Saturday, the European champions took the chance to tighten their stranglehold on the title as they played the first of three league games in 10 days. “We’re happy to get the win and the three points, this isn’t an easy place to come and get a win,” said Bayern coach Pep Guardiola. Guardiola sprang a surprise before kick-off at Borussia Park as striker Mario Mandzukic was left out of the squad for “poor performances in training” with midfielder Goetze starting up front. “Mario hasn’t trained like he normally does,” explained Bayern’s director of sport, Matthias Sammer. Injured France winger Franck Ribery sat out the game while Dutch star Arjen Robben only came on in the dying stages after recovering from a cut leg, but the Bavarians had few problems. Goezte clipped the Gladbach post with just five minutes gone, but the Germany star was not to be denied two minutes later. A superb long ball down the right flank from wing-back Rafinha found Mueller, who then flicked his cross to Goetze to fire home with barely seven minutes played. Moenchengladbach barely got a look in until the closing stages of the first-half. First Germany striker Max Kruse snapped up a throw-in, turned Bayern’s Dante inside-out before unleashing a fierce shot which beat goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, but thundered off the post. On the stroke of half-time, Juan Arango forced Neuer into a good save as the hosts finally found their form.
Munich put the result beyond doubt after a goalmouth scramble as Goetze had a shot blocked, only for the ball to clip Gladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka on the arm and referee Peter Gagelmann signalled for a penalty. Mueller rifled home the spot-kick on 54 minutes to double their lead, while Gladbach could only waste the few chances which came their way. Midfielder Patrick Herrmann fired wide on 66 minutes from almost the identical situation for the Goezte goal, which summed up the hosts’ night as they suffered their first home defeat of the season. Bayern can yet extend their lead even further with a trip to VfB Stuttgart on Wednesday in a re-arranged fixture before hosting Eintracht Frankfurt next Sunday.