Mario Gomez scored twice and Franck Ribery assisted on a goal in his return from injury as Bayern Munich beat Nuremberg 3-0 in the Bundesliga on Sunday to extend its undefeated streak to five matches.
Gomez found the net in the 10th and 75th minutes and Philipp Lahm added a penalty in the 57th to help Bayern bounce back from its draw last week at Borussia Moenchengladbach and rise to sixth place in the standings.
Bayerns has 19 points, 12 behind leader Borussia Dortmund and five back from second-place Bayer Leverkusen and No. 3 Mainz.
"Our goal is not to catch Dortmund (by the winter break). We want to get to 30 points. Then anything is possible," Bayern coach Louis van Gaal said. "We know that they have 31. But we know that there are 17 games in the second half and a lot can happen. We just have to look out for ourselves. And 68 points should be enough.
"It won’t be easy for us. They have good organization and a good coach and players who want the success. And that’s important." Bayern is two points behind fourth-place Freiburg, which has 21 points after beating Hoffenheim 1-0 on the road earlier when Papiss Demba Cisse scored his 10th goal of the season a minute into stoppage time.
"It was a really good tactical game and we played a strong match and deserved to win in the end," Freiburg coach Robin Dutt said. "I was happy with the defense but (goalkeeper) Oliver Baumann had to have a strong game to keep us in the game."
Hoffenheim has won once in its last four games to remain on 18 points.
"It is really aggravating to lose like this in the last second," Hoffenheim captain Andreas Beck said. "We had so many chances but we have to use them, and then we allow such a dumb goal. How aggravating."
In the Bavarian battle in Munich, Bayern led after 10 minutes when Gomez slotted home a cross by Daniel Pranjic.
In the second half, Gomez was taken down in the area by goalkeeper Raphael Schaefer and Lahm converted the spot kick.
Having being out injured the past eight weeks, Ribery played the final 20 minutes, and the French star set up Gomez’s header with 15 minutes to play. It was the German international striker’s seventh Bundesliga goal of the season, all in the past five games.
Gomez had a chance for his second Bundesliga hat trick of the season but struck his 88th-minute spot kick over the crossbar. It was Bayern’s fifth missed penalty in the team’s last eight attempts.
"It’s unbelievable that he missed a penalty like that," said Van Gaal, who also praised Ribery. "He really did a great job. He could have set up two goals, the second being the penalty. And that was a great pass.
"I think in the first 10 minutes of the second half, we didn’t play well. But in the second half we played very strong. The team really deserves praise."