Germany: Bayern maintains position as Dortmund keeps pace

BERLIN (AP) — Bayern Munich ground past Hertha Berlin 2-0 and Borussia Dortmund kept the Bundesliga title race alive for at least one more week with a 3-0 victory at Stuttgart on Saturday.

Bayern would have won the title with a win and Dortmund loss.

Bayern can seal an unprecedented fourth title with a win at home against Borussia Moenchengladbach next weekend, but first visits Atletico Madrid for the opening leg of their Champions League semifinal on Wednesday.

"It's not easy to keep pushing every three or four days, especially when everyone expects you to win," Bayern's Thomas Mueller said.

Planet Futbol
Watch: Bayern’s Douglas Costa hits pretty top-shelf strike

Arturo Vital scored three minutes after the break and Douglas Costa sealed Bayern's win late to keep the side seven points clear of Dortmund with three games remaining.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan starred for Dortmund, setting up Shinji Kagawa, then Christian Pulisic before the break, and crowning his performance by scoring in the 56th.

Hiroshi Kiyotake scored late to salvage a 2-2 draw for Hannover at 10-man Ingolstadt and keep alive a mathematical chance of survival. Hannover was nine points behind Werder Bremen in the relegation playoff place but could be relegated on Sunday if second-from-last Eintracht Frankfurt wins at Mainz.

Bayer Leverkusen scored three goals in a six-minute span to come from two goals down and consolidate third place with a 3-2 win at Schalke in the late game.

Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno saved Klaas Jan Huntelaar's weak penalty early on, but couldn't prevent Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scoring with a deflected shot after running from the center circle in the 14th.

Leroy Sane combined with Max Meyer to put Schalke in a comfortable position 15 minutes later.

But Julian Brandt pulled one back in the 54th, Karim Bellarabi equalized two minutes later, and Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez completed the turnaround on the hour.

Planet Futbol
Watch: Christian Pulisic scores again for Dortmund

​Leverkusen midfielder Charles Aranguiz hit the crossbar for the second time shortly afterward and Bellarabi had another goal ruled out for offside.

Also, Wolfsburg lost at home to Augsburg 2-0 to fully end its Champions League qualification hopes, and Cologne routed visiting Darmstadt 4-1 with Anthony Modeste and Marcel Risse both scoring twice.

Both Ingolstadt and Cologne ended any relegation fears.

Hertha managed to frustrate Bayern for the first half and even had more shots at goal - seven compared to three - though none of them were on target.

Rafinha and Mueller were both booked for bad challenges on former Bayern teammate Mitchell Weiser toward the end of the half.

Vidal finally broke the deadlock after the break, his fierce effort from distance taking a deflection to leave Hertha 'keeper Thomas Kraft helpless.

Hertha was left to rely on counterattacks, knowing that Bayern was one of two teams alongside Bayer Leverkusen to have won every game after taking the lead this season. This was the 26th game.

Costa settled the issue in the 79th with a brilliant strike from a difficult angle to the far top corner.

"It's always difficult against defensive opponents but we got the three points," Bayern midfielder Mario Goetze said.

Stuttgart remained immediately above the relegation playoff place after losing to Dortmund.

Mkhitaryan produced a brilliant cross for Kagawa to open the scoring in the 21st, and Pulisic scored for the second successive game when he converted the rebound after Przemyslaw Tyton saved Mkhitaryan's initial effort.

The American teen became the youngest player at 17 to score two goals for Dortmund.

Mkhitaryan sealed it by picking his spot after Tyton pushed Adrian Ramos' effort away.

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide—from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Andy Staples, Grant Wahl, and more—delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.