Bundesliga: Bayern wins again; Mainz holds Wolfsburg to draw
BERLIN (AP) — Bayern Munich ground out a 3-1 win at Stuttgart and provisionally opened an eight-point lead to move closer to an unprecedented fourth straight Bundesliga title on Saturday.
"We need another three wins and a draw to achieve something very special, something no team in Germany ever achieved," Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said.
An own goal from Georg Niedermeier got the defending champions underway in the 31st minute and David Alaba made it 2-0 in the 52nd.
Daniel Didavi pulled one back in unorthodox fashion in the 63rd, scooping the ball while on the ground over the helpless Manuel Neuer. Didavi did not have time to get up from his previous attempt.
Bayern substitute Douglas Costa sealed it in the 89th with a shot inside the left post.
Borussia Dortmund can restore the five-point gap Sunday with a win at Schalke in the Ruhr derby. Five rounds remain after the weekend's games.
"I always watch Bundesliga on Sundays," Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. "But I rely on Bayern Munich and not Borussia Dortmund."
Visiting Mainz held Wolfsburg to a 1-1 draw in the late game, extending the home side's league run without a win to four games.
Andre Schuerrle put Wolfsburg ahead on a counterattack in the 53rd before Jairo Samperio displayed fine technique and composure to equalize 13 minutes later.
Wolfsburg brings a 2-0 lead to Real Madrid for the second leg of their Champions League quarterfinal Tuesday.
Moritz Hartmann scored late for Ingolstadt to shock Borussia Moenchengladbach 1-0 and deal a blow to the visitors' hopes of Champions League football. Gladbach, in fourth place, could be overtaken by Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke by the end of the weekend.
Ingolstadt, the only side to win at home Saturday, looks certain to survive its first Bundesliga season.
"We always spoke of 40 points. But I think we won't be relegated with 39 either," Ingolstadt coach Ralph Hasenhuettl said.
Hoffenheim defeated Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 to climb four points above the home side in the relegation zone, and Darmstadt won 2-1 at Hamburger SV to boost its chances of avoiding an immediate return to the second division.
"It was an incredibly important game, but we still have a few (left). Nothing's decided yet," said Darmstadt midfielder Konstantin Rausch, whose side is one point above 14th-place Hoffenheim.
Augsburg came from behind to win at Werder Bremen 2-1 and move to 15th — two points above Bremen in the relegation playoff place.
Guardiola made four changes to the side that played Benfica in the Champions League on Tuesday, with Rafinha, Javi Martinez, Xabi Alonso and Mario Goetze starting in place of Philipp Lahm, Thiago Alcantara, Douglas Costa and Thomas Mueller.
Mueller only got a short rest, coming on in the 27th minute for Arturo Vidal, who was on a yellow card and lucky to have avoided another.
"I didn't want to take any risk," Guardiola said.
Neuer made a brilliant save to deny Didavi early on. Didavi, whose Stuttgart contract expires at the end of the season, is joining Wolfsburg in the summer.
It was the best chance before Niedermeier turned Franck Ribery's cross for Robert Lewandowski inside his own goal with the help of a deflection from Stuttgart 'keeper Przemyslaw Tyton.
Alaba gave the visitors some breathing space, displaying good ball control to play it through Toni Sunjic's legs before beating Tyton at his near post.
Didavi got the home fans off their seats with his unusual goal, and Thiago forced Tyton into an outstanding save to tip his effort onto the crossbar, before Costa finally settled the issue.
In Hamburg, where Darmstadt hadn't played since 1981, Aytac Sulu headed the visitors into a 38th-minute lead and Jerome Gondorf made it 2-0 on a counterattack in the 54th.
Lewis Holtby's injury-time reply was much too late for Hamburg.
Bremen was missing top-scorer Claudio Pizarro, who had almost as many Bundesliga goals (188) by himself as Augsburg had before the game altogether (194), due to a stomach injury.
Florian Grillitsch scored before the break to give Bremen a deserved halftime lead, but Alfred Finnbogason equalized with the visitor's first chance in the 53rd and Hong Jeong-ho scored late for Augsburg.