Bayern Munich crush Schalke to close in on fourth consecutive title
FRANKFURT, Germany — Bayern Munich dominated Schalke 3-0 and increased its lead to 10 points as it closed in on a record fourth straight Bundesliga title on Saturday.
Robert Lewandowski’s pair raised his league-high total to 27 goals, and Arturo Vidal added Bayern’s third.
Second-place Borussia Dortmund can cut the gap back to seven points against Hamburger SV on Sunday.
Earlier, substitute Kevin Kampl scored with his first touch of the ball as Bayer Leverkusen went on to beat Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 to jump to third place.
Bayern never looked like losing at home, but could not crack Schalke’s defense until Lewandowski chested down a pass from Vidal, turned, and shot from close range in the 54th minute. He doubled the lead by rising to head in a cross from Rafinha.
Vidal completed the victory after some good work by substitute Franck Ribery, who went in five minutes earlier.
Schalke fell to seventh on goal difference behind Mainz, which plays Cologne on Sunday. Sixth place means a berth in the Europa League next season.
Kampl’s spectacular volley for Leverkusen broke the deadlock, as Frankfurt fell deeper into relegation trouble.
Combined with Hertha Berlin’s 2-1 loss at Hoffenheim, Leverkusen’s win allowed the club to move past Berlin into third, which guarantees a Champions League slot next season.
With four matches remaining, next-to-last Frankfurt was six points from safety and the biggest loser on the day, as most other relegation candidates won.
Werder Bremen beat Wolfsburg 3-2, Darmstadt defeated Ingolstadt 2-0, and Augsburg edged Stuttgart 1-0.
Kampl, coming back from a long injury, made an immediate impact when he replaced Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, who limped off with a left knee injury. Kampl was on the field just seconds before picking up a half-clearance from Frankfurt and driving home a superb first-touch, right-footed shot inside the post in the 70th.
Kampl also helped to set up Leverkusen’s second through Julian Brandt, and Karim Bellarabi added the final strike as Leverkusen notched its fifth straight win without conceding a goal.
Frankfurt had the better chances until Kampl’s opening goal, but sorely missed injured top striker Alexandar Meier.
Leverkusen moved two points above Berlin, which was winless in three straight matches.
Niklas Stark put Berlin ahead, but goals from Fabian Schaer and Mark Uth turned the match around.
In Bremen, Claudio Pizarro returned from injury to convert a penalty and become Bremen’s top all-time scorer with 102, one more than club chairman Marco Bode.
Fin Bartels and Sambou Yatabare got the other goals for Bremen, while Josuha Guilavogui and Bas Dost scored for slumping Wolfsburg, which was eliminated by Real Madrid this week in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. It looks likely to miss out on a European competition next season.
Hoffenheim, Darmstadt, and Augsburg also picked up big points. Bremen was four points ahead of Frankfurt, and in the relegation playoff spot. Stuttgart and Augsburg were two points ahead of Bremen, while Hoffenheim was three points clear of Bremen.