Bayern climbs to the summit
Bayern Munich captured the lead in the Bundesliga for the first
time since it won the 2008 title by beating Hoffenheim 2-0 at the
start of the second half of the season on Friday.
Martin Demichelis put Bayern ahead in the 35th minute and substitute striker Miroslav Klose secured the victory with his first league goal of the season in the 86th. Mario Gomez hit Hoffenheim's post in injury time.
"It's good to be at the top again and to have started with a victory at home," said Klose, who went in for Ivica Olic in the 63rd. "They were better in the first half but it the second it was the other way around."
Klose slid to prod home a low cross from captain Mark van Bommel, scoring his first league goal in more than 10 months.
Bayern won its fifth straight Bundesliga game to have 36 points, one more than Bayer Leverkusen, which can regain the top if it beats promoted Mainz at home on Saturday. Bayern also won its last two Champions League games.
"I am pleased with the result but in the first half we did not play the way we'd been planning to," Bayern coach Louis van Gaal said. "We improved in the second half, however, and missed many chances.
"It's important to be at the top, but it's more important to remain there and to finish first at the end of the season."
Hoffenheim was missing several starters, including striker Chinedu Obasi, who was at the Africa Cup of Nations with Nigeria, and Brazilian playemaker Carlos Eduardo, who was injured. Several teenagers were in the starting lineup for Hoffenheim, which was winless in five games.
Bayern was without star winger Franck Ribery, who was recovering from a toe injury. But the other winger, Arjen Robben, was back in the starting lineup and tormented Hoffenheim's defense for the entire match.
Demichelis scored after Bayern weathered some strong pressure from Hoffenheim.
Josip Simunic tried to clear a cross by Bastian Schweinsteiger but instead headed the ball over to Demichelis at the far post and the defender slotted home.
Robben had a shot deflected before Hoffenheim replied.
Vedad Ibisevic tested Joerg Butt from the edge of the area in the 28th, Butt fumbled the ball, but Hoffenheim could not take advantage.
Robben guided a swift Bayern counterattack in the 58th but Gomez could not control the pass and wasted the opportunity.
Hoffenheim goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand then saved a header from Gomez, again set up by Robben.
Hildebrand denied Thomas Mueller and stopped an effort from Robben as Bayern dominated the action.
On the other side, Butt produced a quick reflex reaction to turn away a free kick from Demba Ba.