BERLIN, Dec 18 — Bayern Munich pulled further away from the chasing pack in the Bundesliga’s last matches before the winter break, Thomas Mueller scoring the winner in a 1-0 victory over Stuttgart that also saw Sven Ulreich save a last gasp penalty.
That incredible 95th-minute stop from the Bayern keeper ensured a fourth win in a row for Bayern and put them 11 points clear at the top of the table, despite having their lowest points tally at Christmas since 2011.
A late goal from American teenage sensation Christian Pulisic saw Borussia Dortmund’s revival continue under Peter Stoeger, as they came from behind to beat Hoffenheim 2-1.
Bayer Leverkusen’s Jamaican starlet Leon Bailey continued his fine form with a brace against Hanover 96. Here are five things we learned from the last round of Bundesliga matches before the winter break.
Bayern’s welcome break
Not since 2011 have Bayern reached Christmas with as few points under their belt, yet with “just” 41 on the board the champions remain dominant in the Bundesliga this season, 11 points ahead of their nearest challengers.
Jupp Heynckes’ side laboured to another narrow victory this weekend, picking up three points in Stuttgart despite being far from their dominant best. “It is getting increasingly hard to maintain the same level,” said Heynckes. “The players need to recover and regain a bit of head space.”
The league leaders face one final challenge before the winter break, with resurgent Borussia Dortmund coming up in the German Cup.
Christian Pulisic’s late winner provided some much-needed home cheer for Dortmund this weekend. The newly-crowned US player of the year struck late on to secure Dortmund’s first win at home in seven games and their second straight league victory, as they continued their revival under new coach Peter Stoeger.
Stoeger insisted that his team still have work to do, despite two wins in their last two games. “It wasn’t certain that we would win the game,” said the Dortmund coach. “We weren’t good in the duels, and we were lucky that Hoffenheim didn’t score a second goal.”
Leon Bailey’s fantastic form continued for Bayer Leverkusen, as the Jamaican scored twice in his side’s thrilling 4-4 draw at Hanover 96.
Brought on at half-time with his side trailing 3-2, Bailey twice broke down the left wing to score, briefly putting his side ahead in a dramatic game.
The 20-year-old has been in blistering form of late, with three assists in his two previous games.
“I always say that a wise man learns from his own mistakes, but a wiser man learns from others’ mistakes,” Bailey told Sky Sports when asked about his recent success.
Surplus to requirements at RB Leipzig last season, Davie Selke enjoyed a brilliant return to the Red Bull Arena yesterday when he fired Hertha to an unlikely victory over his former club.
Selke was the decisive for Hertha, scoring a goal in each half as the Berliners battled to an astonishing 3-2 win despite having to play with ten men for almost the entire match after Jordan Torunarigha’s seventh minute red card.
“It’s satisfying, I am happy that I was able to show people that I am doing well for Hertha,” Selke told Sky Sports.
It was another bitter defeat for Leipzig, who have not won in five games this December and have now dropped out of the top four.
Eberl’s fan fury
Borussia Moenchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl launched a scathing attack on the club’s own fans after a 3-1 victory over Hamburg.
Despite the win, some Gladbach fans whistled the team during Saturday’s game, prompting Eberl to furiously describe them as “a***holes”.
“I’m not talking here about our loyal fans, but about the ones who come to watch football every now and then,” ranted Eberl. “They should stay at home if all they are going to do is whistle.”
Both coach Dieter Hecking and midfielder Thorgan Hazard supported their sporting director, defending his use of language and echoing his disappointment with the fans. — AFP