Bayern tighten grip on Bundesliga lead; Augsburg fall to Hannover
Arjen Robben scored his 100th goal for Bayern Munich Tuesday night as the Bundesliga champions expanded their lead over VfL Wolfsburg to 12 points atop the circuit with a 2-0 triumph over relegation-threatened SC Freiburg.
Robben's 65th Bundesliga goal accompanied 35 in other competitions as he continues to stamp his authority on a Bayern attack which so often flows through his right-side wizardry. On this night the Bavarians completely dominated proceedings but Freiburg keeper Roman Buerki and the woodwork meant the final scoreline did not reflect the one-way match.
In the night's other matches, Hannover defeated fifth-placed Augsburg 2-0 to move into eighth themselves; Cologne and Mainz played a 0-0 draw; and VfB Stuttgart got the vital goal at Hamburger SV to get off the bottom of the table while pulling level with their hosts. Both are on 16 points, just above the drop zone occupied by Borussia Dortmund, Freiburg and Werder Bremen, all of whom have 14.
It wasn't all perfect for Bayern, however. They will have some concerns ahead of Friday's final match before the Winterpause at Mainz because Medhi Benatia, Robert Lewandowski and Xabi Alonso all came off with apparent injuries.
Benatia looked to have a groin problem when Jerome Boateng took over in the 39th minute, while Lewandowski did not come out for the second half after taking a knock just before the half-hour. Then Alonso limped off just before the hour, going straight down the stairs to the dressing room before being replaced by Xherdan Shaqiri.
That left Bastian Schweinsteiger, who had replaced Lewandowski, and Franck Ribery patrolling the central area where Alonso has been such a force this season since Josep Guardiola tabbed him to replace the departed Toni Kroos.
Robben's goal arrived in the 40th minute as he dove to finish a crisply-created Bayern goal after the first half had been largely frustrating for the champions. Thomas Mueller, Ribery, Mario Goetze and Robben had all failed to take chances, or were denied by Buerki, before a sweet pass over the top from Alonso pried open the Freiburg defense.
Ribery, timing his run perfectly, slipped behind the Freiburg backline to nod the ball down for Robben to finish the job from close range.
Hannover took the lead after 20 minutes against Augsburg when Salif Sane headed in a corner from the left off from Hiroshi Kiyotake then doubled their advantage on Joselu's 54th minute penalty kick as they moved to within a single point of third-place Bayer Leverkusen in the log-jam that is the table behind Bayern and VfL Wolfsburg.
In the battle at the bottom, VfB Stuttgart had a Georg Niedermeier header cleared off the line six minutes before Florian Klein put them ahead in the 42nd minute. HSV coughed the ball up at center field, then failed to cut out a pass to Martin Harnik, a combination that allowed Harnik to get away on the right. He then laid off the pass for Klein to finish the job.
Stuttgart were reduced to 10 men in the 53rd minute when Neidermeier was given a direct red card for bringing down Artjoms Rudnevs just on the edge of the box but even the extra man could not get HSV back level. They have scored only nine goals in 16 matches.
Cologne thought they had taken an early lead when Dominic Maroh got on the end of a Matthias Lehmann free kick in the eighth minute, but the offside flag was up as Dominic Maroh put the ball into the net.
Five matches Wednesday night complete the midweek round. Most eyes will be on Dortmund where Borussia will host second-place Wolfsburg.