Bayern Munich made sure they will go into the Bundesliga winter break in top spot after defeating promoted Ingolstadt 2-0 on Saturday to bounce back from their first league loss.
Second-half goals from Robert Lewandowski and Philipp Lahm lifted Bayern, who lost to Borussia Moenchengladbach last week, on to 43 points, eight ahead of Borussia Dortmund, who play Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday, with one more matchday left before the one-month break.
Bayer Leverkusen scored four times in 13 minutes in an explosive second half with Javier Hernandez netting a hat-trick, to crush Borussia Moenchengladbach 5-0 and snap their 10-game unbeaten run under coach Andre Schubert.
Bayern, who won the league 17 times out of the previous 20 they had finished top at the halfway mark, struggled for more than an hour against the gutsy visitors.
Without injured wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben it was captain Lahm who went close, failing to beat keeper Ramazan Oezcan in a one-on-one early in the second half as Bayern upped the tempo.
Lewandowski was also denied by Oezcan but the Poland forward latched on to a defence-splitting pass from Jerome Boateng in the 65th minute and flicked the ball past the keeper and in off the post for his 15th goal of the campaign.
Lahm made amends for his earlier miss, drilling in Bayern’s second goal from a Thomas Mueller assist 10 minutes later.
“Ingolstadt played a courageous game and we played the best team we have faced this season,” Bayern coach Pep Guardiola told reporters. “We had problems with our game for a long time but at the end it was our quality that got us through.”
Mexican Hernandez scored a 13-minute hat-trick and Stefan Kiessling contributed two goals as Leverkusen stormed past Gladbach, ending Schubert’s unbeaten run in the league.
Hernandez took his season tally to 10 league goals and also scored twice in two minutes to steer Leverkusen to their first win in three league games and into sixth on 24 points, offering coach Roger Schmidt some respite after their Champions League exit in midweek. Gladbach dropped to fifth on 26.
Hertha Berlin continued their sparkling run with a 4-0 demolition of Darmstadt 98 including two goals from Vedad Ibisevic to climb into third place on 29 points with their fourth win in the last five games.
VfL Wolfsburg could not replicate the midweek form that saw them beat Manchester United in the Champions League, stuttering to a 1-1 draw at Hamburg but still moved up to fourth on 26.
Hoffenheim earned their first three points under coach Huub Stevens since the Dutchman took over in late October, edging past Hanover 96 1-0 to climb off the bottom and into 17th spot on 13, one point ahead of VfB Stuttgart, who drew 0-0 against Mainz on Friday.
Support InfoStride News' Credible Journalism: Only credible journalism can guarantee a fair, accountable and transparent society, including democracy and government. It involves a lot of efforts and money. We need your support. Click here to Donate