Robben's last-minute goal gives Bayern Munich a victory at Mainz
BERLIN (AP) -- Arjen Robben's last-minute strike gave Bayern Munich a 2-1 win at Mainz to set a Bundesliga record for points at the halfway stage of the season on Friday.
Robben was free to convert Juan Bernat's cross from close range after Mainz lost the ball in midfield, giving Bayern 45 points from 17 games, bettering the club's own mark of 44 set midway through the 2005-06 season.
"I have to be honest, I'm very happy with the win but I'm sorry for Mainz. They gave it everything, left everything on the pitch, and were really well supported by their fans," Robben said.
It was a cruel defeat on Mainz after a commendable performance. The home side opened the scoring in the 21st through Elkin Soto, who fired the ball through Manuel Neuer's legs after the Bayern defense failed to cut out a dangerous cross from Japan striker Shinji Okazaki.
It was only the fourth goal Bayern conceded all season -- also a Bundesliga record at the halfway stage. Bastian Schweinsteiger equalized three minutes later with a free kick in off the top of the left post.
"We're disappointed going home because we deserved at least a point," Soto said.
Mainz twice had chances before the break, through Yunus Malli and then his striker partner Okazaki. Neuer produced a great save to deny Malli after the interval, but was caught out after a throw-in in the 70th, when Pablo de Blasis was unable to capitalize.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg was deflected narrowly wide at the other end in what was Bayern's best chance before Robben claimed the winner.
"It was actually quite a nice evening until the last minute. They had one big chance and they took it," Mainz general manager Christian Heidel said.
The draw stretched Bayern's lead to 14 points ahead of the rest of the 17th round. The defending champion was assured of top spot going into the six-week winter break with two games to spare.
"I think we can all enjoy the break now," said Robben, the Dutch sportsman of the year.