Germany: Bayern defeats Hanover as Guardiola's decision looms
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Bayern Munich will take a comfortable eight-point lead into the Bundesliga Christmas break, during which coach Pep Guardiola is expected to clear up his future.
Bayern beat Hannover 1-0 on Saturday and, combined with second-place Borussia Dortmund's 2-1 loss in Cologne, the league leader and defending champion can be satisfied with what's happening on the field.
Off the field, some German media are reporting that Guardiola has decided to leave the Bundesliga powerhouse when his contract expires at the end of the season. Bayern and Guardiola have declined to comment on the reports, saying the decision will be announced shortly.
"Tomorrow, tomorrow," Guardiola said when pressed.
Thomas Mueller converted a penalty close to halftime for Bayern.
Dortmund led Cologne for much of the game, but conceded two goals in the last 10 minutes.
"It was totally unnecessary to lose here," Dortmund midfielder Sven Bender said.
In other matches, Bayer Leverkusen won 1-0 in Ingolstadt on Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez's 19th goal in 22 matches in all competitions; Eintracht Frankfurt earned an important 2-1 win over Werder Bremen; and Augsburg also won on the road, beating Hamburger SV 1-0.
Daniel Didavi scored twice for Stuttgart to leave the relegation zone with a 3-1 upset of Wolfsburg in the late game.
It was looking bad for the home side when Maximilian Arnold fired Wolfsburg ahead early, but Didavi answered eight minutes later, Filip Kostic made it 2-1 nine minutes after that, and Didavi claimed his second two minutes after the break as Stuttgart responded with its best football of the year.
Stuttgart defender Tonu Sunjic's second yellow card should have ensured a nervy finale with 20 minutes to play, but Sebastian Jung missed on open goal and Max Kruse another chance for Wolfsburg late on.
In Hannover, Bayern had much of the possession but looked tired, doing just as much as it needed to win three points. The penalty came as Christian Schulz handled the ball as he attempted a diving clearance of a low cross by Arturo Vidal.
Leon Andreasen came close for Hannover earlier, hitting the crossbar with a header.
Robert Lewandowski hit the post for Bayern, and Mueller's followup was kicked away by goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler.
Dortmund went ahead early in Cologne when Sokratis Papastathopoulos headed in a corner.
But Cologne battled back late, after defending most of the time. Simon Zoller hit the equalizer and substitute Anthony Modeste notched the winner near the end.
Leverkusen moved into fourth place thanks to Chicharito's second-half strike, a clinical finish of a counterattack guided by Karim Bellarabi, and his 11th Bundesliga goal in 14 matches.
"He's scoring at an incredible rate," Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt said of the Mexican forward. "He's so cool in front of the goal."
Ausgburg's three points in Hamburg meant a decisive step away from the relegation zone for a team that started the season struggling but is unbeaten in five consecutive matches.
Jan Moravek scored for Augsburg.
In Frankfurt, Eintracht fell behind to a goal by veteran Claudio Pizarro. But Alexander Meier headed in the equalizer from a long cross by Aleksandar Ignjovski, and Stefan Aigner secured the win after halftime with a fine lob.
Eintracht swapped places with Bremen, and was 14th.
"The win came at the right time. Everyone's relieved," Frankfurt chairman Heribert Bruchhagen said.