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Bundesliga

Bayern stroll to victory, Fürth upset Schalke

Last-placed Fürth dented Schalke's ambitions with a surprise 2-1 away win. Meanwhile Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez were only reserves as table toppers Bayern racked up a comfortable 3-0 win over upstarts Mainz.

Mainz are not an opponent Bayern Munich particularly relishing facing. Coach Thomas Tuchel always has his boys up for German football's premier challenge, and this match was no exception, with the hosts getting a boot in and generating a pair of chances in the first half-hour.

Bayern remained calm, though, and their patience paid off in the 40th minute. Toni Kroos chested the ball down, turned and passed to Thomas Müller, who put the Bavarians in the lead.

Five minutes after the break, Kroos again displayed a great eye, picking out Mario Mandzukic in front of goal. The result: Bayern were up 2-0 and well on their way to their sixteenth win of the season.

Shortly before the hour mark, Philipp Lahm lobbed the ball in for Mandzukic to head home. It was an impressive display of the Bavarians' ability to close out games when they take the lead.

The only open question was whether Jupp Heynckes would give out-of-favor stars Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez some significant playing time. And while the duo got a run-out during the last 15 minutes, Bayern had to be content with the 3-0 scoreline.

"We just go ahead and do our thing," Müller said after the game. "If we do that, then it doesn't matter what the others do."

The result puts Bayern a massive 14 points ahead of Leverkusen, who play on Sunday.

Lowly Fürth shock Schalke

Joel Matip of Schalke reacts during the Bundesliga match between Schalke 04 and Greuther Fuerth

Schalke's couldn't believe this result

In Schalke, the main storyline was that former player and coach Mike Bückens returned to town with this season's laughing stocks, last-placed Greuther Fürth. The underdogs held tough for 45 minutes, but immediately after the restart newcomer Michel Bastos put Schalke ahead with a lovely shot from almost thirty meters.

A one-goal lead is usually enough against Fürth, who have the league's worst offense, but in minute 52 Felix Klaus got Fürth's first goal of 2013, volleying home a Nikola Djurdjic cross.

Schalke had the better chances from then on, but Fürth looked occasionally dangerous on the counter-attack. And the final minutes were nothing for weak nerves. Schalke keeper Timo Hildebrand twice denied the visitors, while Raffael almost sealed three points for the hosts when he hit the post.

But seconds before the final whistle, Djurdjic headed a rebound over Hildebrand to give Fürth only their second win of the season. The result is a disaster for Schalke, whose drive to qualify for the Champions League isn't looking good at the moment.

"It's a bitter step backwards for us," Schalke sports director Horst Heldt told reporters. "The crisis was already here, and now everything is going to get uncomfortable."

Hoffenheim stop freefall

 Kevin Volland (r) scores the 2-1

Hoffenheim finally turned round their poor form

Ahead of Hoffenheim's match against Freiburg, most of the talk centered on much-maligned goalkeeper Tim Wiese, the former German national, who was taken out of the squad to "protect" him from inhuman pressure, as coach Marco Kurz declared.

His replacement Heurelho Gomes - a winter signing from English side Tottenham - was in the middle of the early action. In minute four, he parried a shot by Max Kruse back into the middle, only to have Kruse fire it past him for a Freiburg lead.

But youngster Kevin Volland scored a one-two punch to turn around the game in the first half. His first goal was a deflected effort off an opponent, while his second came after a defensive blunder by Oliver Sorg deep in his own half.

Freiburg had much more of the ball in the second half, but there were no goals. The 2-1 victory was Hoffenheim's first in nine matches and took them up to sixteenth in the table. After the match, Kurz was full of praise for his new keeper Gomes.

"I think he was under a lot of pressure himself, and he played really well," Kurz said.

Stuttgart come up short

Robbie Kruse of Duesseldorf celebrates

Düsseldorf got their maiden win of 2013

After falling meekly to Bayern last week, Stuttgart were looking to get back on track away to Fortuna Düsseldorf. But it was the hosts who seized the scoring initiative. Australian striker Robbie Kruse put them ahead after ten minutes. Düsseldorf then parked the bus, and while Stuttgart had 75 percent possession, Kruse caught them out on a counter-attack to double Fortuna's advantage.

Stuttgart rallied in the second half. On the hour mark, Ibrahima Traore fired across a long cross for Christian Gentner to volley in. But Düsseldorf sealed the 3-1 win a quarter of an hour from time, when Oliver Fink blasted a shot past Sven Ulreich.

In the fifth match of the afternoon, hosts Wolfsburg started brightly against Augsburg and took a deserved lead in minute 23 when Naldo headed in a corner by fellow Brazilian Diego. But only two minutes later Jan Moravek was given acres of space in front of goal to equalize for the visitors. The goal seemed to take the wind out of the Wolves' sails, and the match ended 1-1.

In Saturday’s late match, Hamburg were hoping to extend a four-game home winning streak when they welcomed Frankfurt. But the Eagles aren’t in fourth place for nothing, and they showed that they swung a good winter transfer deal as well.

Newly acquired striker Srdan Lakic struck twice in the first half, finishing off a pair of precise crosses by Stefan Aigner. Hamburg’s defence looked shaky, while Ainger made a case for himself as the most improved player of the season, with seven goals to go with his seven assists.

The 2-0 win extends Frankfurt’s hold on fourth place. They have the inside track on qualifying for the Champions League while Hamburg remain a disappointing ninth in the table.

On Friday, Werder Bremen beat Hannover 2-0 on a pair of late goals.

On Sunday, Nuremberg play Mönchengladbach, before Leverkusen do battle with reigning champs Dortmund with second place in the table at stake.

DW.DE