Bayern Munich kept alive their Bundesliga title hopes with a hard-fought 2-1 win in a Bavarian derby against Augsburg.
Mario Gomez scored his goals number 24 and 25 of the season to keep the Bavarians just three points behind league leaders Borussia Dortmund, who they meet on Wednesday night. Ja-Cheol Koo gave Augsburg hope with an equaliser before Gomez, who extended his contract with the club until 2016 in midweek, earned Bayern all three points.
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said he knew that the game would be a tough test. "The players needed a while to find their rhythm but then we got it together after the break and we can now travel to Dortmund feeling optimistic and motivated, even if that game itself won't decide the title race."
Gomez gave Bayern a perfect start with a goal in the first minute. Franck Ribery, celebrating his 29th birthday, raced past two Augsburg defenders on the right before sending the ball in for Gomez, whose first shot was saved by goalkeeper Simon Jentzsch, but he made no mistake with the rebound.
Any thoughts of it being another rampage at the Allianz Arena were quashed in the 15th minute when Augsburg showed they would not go down without a fight. Raffael teed up Marcel Ndjeng, whose shot was blocked on the line by Jerome Boateng.
Augsburg levelled in the 23rd minute, with Boateng this time not looking so good as he let the ball past and Axel Bellinghausen raced clear. He pulled the ball back for Koo, whose shot from 15 yards beat Manuel Neuer, who made a poor attempt to save with his foot.
Bayern bounce back
The goal woke Bayern up and Ribery's shot cannoned back off the post, but it was still a bold Augsburg side which continued to cause Bayern problems in the first half. Bayern improved in the second half as Augsburg stood back a little more and defended.
They were punished on the hour mark when Arjen Robben squared the ball for Gomez, giving him one of the easiest of his 25 goals this season from close range. Augsburg responded once again and showed why they had not lost in their last six games.
But unlike at Werder Bremen a few weeks ago, this time there was to be no late drama as Tobias Werner's last-minute shot was blocked inside the penalty area and Bayern were able to clear their lines and hold on to a crucial three points.
They can now overtake Dortmund with a win at the Westfalenstadion, although defeat on Wednesday would leave them six points behind with four games remaining.