Bayern go nine points clear

French star Franck Ribery coolly converted a second-half penalty to help ten-man Bayern Munich to a 3-1 win over VfL Bochum on Sunday to put his side nine points clear at the top of the Bundesliga.

With seven games left Bayern are now overwhelming favourites to be crowned German champions for the 21st time although on Sunday they had to come from behind. Goals from defender Lucio, midfielder Ribery and defender Christian Lell sealed the win.

Bayern were stunned as early as the fourth minute when Bochum midfielder Mimoun Azaouagh beat Munich goalkeeper Oliver Kahn with a superbly curled shot into the top left-hand corner.

Things went from bad to worse for Bayern as they were reduced to ten men when Dutch midfielder Mark van Bommel was sent off after just 25 minutes for a second-yellow card for a poor tackle.

But Bayern were back on level terms when defender Lucio headed home Bastian Schweinsteiger's free-kick into the net on 31 minutes.

On the back of Thursday's lacklustre performance, when they conceeded a late goal in their 1-1 draw with Spanish side Getafe in the UEFA Cup quarter-final, Bayern needed a win.

Ribery provided it when he calmy slotted home a 74th minute penalty after a handball before Lell hit the third with time running out.

Behind Bayern the race for UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup places next season has heated up with just four points separating second-placed Schalke 04 and Bayer Leverkusen in sixth.

Leverkusen were humbled 2-1 at Borussia Dortmund on Sunday as Brazilian defender Dede hit the winner deep into injury time as the home side came from behind.

Schalke go second
On Saturday, Schalke striker Halil Altintop headed his side up to second as the Champions League quarter-finalists beat Hansa Rostock 1-0. The Royal Blues took full advantage of Hamburg's 1-0 defeat at Stuttgart with Turkey striker Altintop, twin brother of Bayern Munich midfielder Hamit, scoring his side's solitary goal in the 52nd minute with a header.

Hamburg dropped to third as they were beaten 1-0 by a resurgent VfB Stuttgart who move into the top five for the first time this season with Germany midfielder Roberto Hilbert hitting the winner.

Werder Bremen came away from the Olympic stadium in the German capital with a 2-1 win over Hertha Berlin as Germany midfielder Tim Borowski hit a second-half winner to put his side fourth.

There was crowd trouble in Nuremberg's 3-1 win at Eintracht Frankfurt when the clash was stopped for 20 minutes after Nuremberg fans launched fireworks onto the pitch at Frankfurt's Commerzbank-Arena.

Arminia Bielefeld picked up their first win of 2008 when they beat Karlsruhe 1-0 thanks to an injury time goal by Leonidas Kampantais. The win lifts Bielefeld out of the bottom three into 15th.

VfL Wolfsburg moved up to seventh after their 3-1 win over Hanover with Wolfsburg midfielder Ashkan Dejagah netting twice.

On Friday, Energie Cottbus picked up their sixth win of the season at Duisburg to move up to 14th and pull away from the relegation zone.