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March 05, 2016

BERLIN (AP) — Bayern Munich took another small step toward an unprecedented fourth successive Bundesliga title with a hard-fought scoreless draw at closest rival Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.

Bayern, which had a healthy eight-point lead before Wednesday's shock home defeat to Mainz, preserved the five-point gap with nine games remaining.

Bayern midfielder Arturo Vidal came closest to scoring for either side in the 65th minute when Dortmund 'keeper Roman Buerki produced a fine reflex save to deflect his shot onto the crossbar.

"I'm happy the ball didn't go in," said Buerki, who also got the better of Douglas Costa in a one-on-one in the first half but had a shaky start to the game. "There are always things you can improve upon."

Buerki conceded the title was less likely with Dortmund having failed to narrow the deficit and now needing two slip-ups from Bayern.

"It's the same as before the game, five points. We'll try and win all our games," the Dortmund 'keeper said.

The visitors had 17 efforts at goal, compared to Dortmund's 11. League top-scorer Robert Lewandowski was quiet on his return to his former club, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was unable to seriously trouble Manuel Neuer at the other end.

It was the first 0-0 draw in 26 competitive meetings between the rivals.

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Thomas Mueller missed the first big chance in the fifth minute when he fired high and wide after Buerki failed to deal properly with Costa's cross. Neuer denied Aubameyang on a quick break at the other end minutes later and the tone was set for the game, with both sides' high tempo creating chances at either end.

Vidal had another good chance before Erik Durm hit the side-netting with Dortmund's next opportunity.

The outstanding Joshua Kimmich, filling in for Bayern's defense, made a brilliant last-ditch tackle to deny Marco Reus before Buerki thwarted Costa.

Bayern grew stronger as the game progressed but Buerki shut the door with his reflex save.

"Nil-nil is definitely a result we can live with. I'd like to have seen our efforts rewarded with a 1-0 win," said Mueller, who said the league wasn't won yet. "It stays exciting. We're still under pressure for the remaining games."

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Earlier, Claudio Pizarro scored his 100th Bundesliga goal for Werder Bremen in a 4-1 win over last-place Hannover and Bayer Leverkusen came from three goals down to draw 3-3 at Augsburg.

South Korea midfielder Koo Ja-cheol's hat trick wasn't enough for Augsburg as Hakan Calhanoglu's injury-time penalty earned Leverkusen an unlikely draw and prevented the team from slumping to its fourth straight defeat.

Jeffrey Gouweleeuw was sent off for conceding the hand-ball penalty in the 92nd minute, 12 minutes after Paul Verhaegh's own goal put Leverkusen in touching distance. Karim Bellarabi started the comeback with a half-hour remaining.

Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt wasn't in the stadium to see any of it after leaving for Spain to watch Europa League opponent Villarreal in action against Las Palmas.

Veteran Peru striker Pizarro scored one goal — his 11th of the season and fifth in three games — and set up another to boost Bremen's hopes of avoiding the drop.

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Fin Bartels opened the scoring before Pizarro made it 2-0 with a brilliant strike in the 26th. The 37-year-old lifted the ball over two Hannover defenders with his right boot and smacked it past the goalkeeper with his left.

Kenan Karaman pulled one back but Pizarro set up Theodor Gebre Selassie in the 56th. Zlatko Junuzovic sealed it.

"The win was very important. Now we can breathe in and carry on working," Pizarro said.

Defeat piles the pressure on former Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf, now in charge of Hannover and eight points from safety.

Also, Schalke won 3-1 at Cologne to move to fourth, going ahead on a second-minute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar penalty and 23rd-minute Max Meyer strike. Leonardo Bittencourt pulled one back 10 minutes later but Franco Di Santo headed Schalke's winner in the 76th.

Wolfsburg defeated Borussia Moenchengladbach 2-1, Stuttgart routed Hoffenheim 5-1, and Eintracht Frankfurt drew 1-1 with Ingolstadt, which finished with 10 men after Pascal Gross' 74th-minute sending off.

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)