Impressive Bayern and Schalke boost title hopes
Posted on December 14, 2009, Monday
BERLIN: Bayern Munich and Schalke moved firmly into the German title race on Saturday with impressive away victories.Bayern produced a 5-1 romp at struggling Bochum while Schalke won 2-0 at fellow title hopefuls Werder Bremen to edge the Bavarians into third spot.
Bayern’s win, coming hot on the heels of a four-goal Champions League success at Juventus, gave them 30 points from 16 games, two adrift of leaders Bayer Leverkusen, who just preserved their unbeaten league record this season with a 2-2 draw on Friday at tail-enders Hertha Berlin.
With a week to go until the winter break Louis van Gaal’s men are finally firing on all cylinders just six weeks after they languished in eighth place, eight points off the summit.
A win over Mainz next week and the four-time European champions could just go into the Christmas break top of the heap.
But they lie third for now with Schalke muscling past Bremen into second thanks to goals from Kevin Kuranyi – a left-footed strike two minutes after the break – and then Jan Moravek, who fired in after Kuranyi set him up with 18 minutes remaining.
Czech star Moravek had only come on two minutes earlier for Croatian Ivan Rakitic in what proved to be an inspired substitution by coach Felix Magath, whose men are just a point off Leverkusen.
Bayern, meanwhile, cannot stop scoring.
Fourteen goals in four games for two conceded tells its own story and strike tandem Mario Gomez and Ivica Olic have been leading rivals a merry dance – leaving Germany international Miroslav Klose and World Cup winner Luca Toni on the first team fringes.
Gomez, the most expensive player in the history of the Bundesliga, opened the scoring on 23 minutes with his fourth in four games.
Then Olic, who has become a fan favourite given the injury absences of French star Franck Ribery in the first half of the season, notched a double either side of half-time following a Mergim Mavric own goal.
Croatian star Danijel Prandic completed the rout ten minutes after the restart.
Christian Fuchs hit a consolation for Bochum, who are now in the bottom four.
“The players have digested the win over Juventus very well,” van Gaal enthused.
“They were very concentrated and it’s been a great week, the best since I have been in Munich,” said the Dutchman, who is reportedly ready to let the out-of-favour Toni return to Italy.
“We are only two points off top spot and that is very satisfying.” — AFP