Bayern routs Hannover to extend Bundesliga lead
BERLIN (AP) — Bayern Munich routed Hannover 4-0 away to increase its Bundesliga lead to 19 points and extend its league record unbeaten run to 47 games on Sunday.
Bastian Schweinsteiger made his first start after recovering from ankle surgery and the Germany midfielder had a hand in both his side’s first half goals, as Bayern strolled to its 14th win in succession.
Earlier, 10-man Werder Bremen held on for a 0-0 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt, a result that leaves both sides just three points off the relegation zone.
Hannover made the better start and Bayern reserve goalkeeper Tom Starke, replacing the rested Manuel Neuer, had to be alert to deny Artjoms Rudnevs in the 15th minute when Szabolcs Huszti played the Latvian striker through.
“It took us a while to get into it but once we scored it went very well,” Bayern coach Pep Guardiola said.
Bayern gave the home side a lesson in efficiency and scored with its first attack of note in the 25th when Schweinsteiger spotted Rafinha on the right and the Brazilian crossed for Thomas Mueller to head inside the right post.
Schweinsteiger played a great ball over the Hannover defense for Thiago Alcantara to make it 2-0 with a confident finish nine minutes later.
“It was great to play from the beginning, to get the practice back and play without any problems,” Schweinsteiger said. “I still have to get into my rhythm. The foot feels good and I hope it stays that way.”
Hannover threatened briefly after the break, when Rudnevs fired over and Starke saved from Mame Biram Diouf before blocking Huszti’s effort.
Mueller killed any hopes of a comeback with his second goal in the 59th after Mario Mandzukic laid the ball off with his heel. It was the Bayern winger’s 10th strike of the season.
Mandzukic celebrated his 100th Bundesliga appearance by meeting Rafinha’s cross to complete the scoring in the 66th.
Schweinsteiger went off shortly afterward, when he vented his frustration at not receiving the ball from substitute Arjen Robben after making a run.
“When you get to a certain age you don’t like to run as much,” Schweinsteiger joked. “I know what Arjen is like.”
Bayern can wrap up the title in record time with closest challengers Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund losing on Saturday. Fourth-placed Schalke also slipped up by drawing on Friday.
No other side has had such an advantage after 22 games in 51 seasons of the Bundesliga. Bayern can theoretically seal the title on March 15.
“I look at the table but in the end it’s only important what we do,” Guardiola said.
Frankfurt dominated its game Sunday but failed to make the most of its numerical advantage after Felix Kroos was sent off with his second yellow card in the 34th minute.
“We’re not at all happy with the point,” Frankfurt coach Armin Veh said. “We were the better team even before the sending off.”
Joselu should have scored in the ninth but was thwarted in a one-on-one by Bremen goalkeeper Raphael Wolf.
Frankfurt attacking midfielder Alexander Meier grazed the outside of the right post with a free kick in the 29th, shot wide from a promising position in the 78th, and then headed the best chance against the other post with two minutes remaining.
“This little victory for morale can help us,” Bremen coach Robin Dutt said. “We don’t yet know what the point is good for but it will be good for something.”