Bayern close on Dortmund, Freiburg triumph
Bayern Munich trimmed Borussia Dortmund's lead at the top of the Bundesliga back to three points on Saturday as the Bavarians' 1-0 win at Nurnberg heated up the title race with just six games left.
After champions Dortmund were held to a dramatic 4-4 draw at home to Stuttgart on Friday night, second-placed Bayern seized their opportunity with Dutch winger Arjen Robben hitting the winner. The win was also a perfect boost ahead of Tuesday's home UEFA Champions League quarter-final second-leg tie against Marseille.
"Things are back in our own hands now in all competitions," said Bayern's director of sport Christian Nerlinger. "I trust the team, they are showing they can cope with a game every three days and their stamina is right up there. I look forward to the final sprint."
At Nurnberg, Munich were frustrated by their hosts' robust defence, but after German striker Mario Gomez was ruled offside after having found the net, Robben put the Bavarians ahead just moments later. Bayern midfielder Toni Kroos chipped over the Nurnberg defence and although Franck Ribery's shot was blocked by goalkeeper Raphael Schaefer, Robben was on hand to fire home on 69 minutes.
Dortmund host Bayern at home on 11 April in a showdown which could decide the Bundesliga title with the season to end on 5 May. The pair are also set to contest the DFB-Pokal final on 12 May. "We are not looking at Dortmund, we just want to win our games" said German star Bastian Schweinsteiger, who played the last 35 minutes in Nurnberg as he returns from injury, but is suspended for Tuesday's visit of Marseille.
"You can really feel the absolute will of the team at the moment. Clearly we want the title. I'm still not 100 per cent, but every minute I play is good."
Third-placed Schalke are at midtable Hoffenheim tomorrrow, while Borussia Moenchengladbach, who are fourth in the table, are at Hannover.
Freiburg avoid drop zone
Freiburg, meanwhile, stayed clear of the relegation zone after picking up their third straight win and have gone five games without defeat after a 2-0 win at Bayer Leverkusen, who produced a poor performance.
Cologne dropped into the bottom three for the first time since August when they were beaten 2-1 at Augsburg. South Korean midfielder Koo Ja-Cheol hit Augsburg's opening goal on 19 minutes, but Cologne's Germany star Lukas Podolski levelled from the spot.
On the stroke of half-time, Augsburg's Angola striker Nando Rafael converted a penalty for the hosts and the win lifted his team to 14th in the table.
Mainz are up to tenth after their 3-0 win at Werder Bremen. Hungarian striker Adam Szalai put his side ahead on 19 minutes, Cameroonian forward Eric Choupo-Moting scored the second on 48 minutes, after coming on at the break, then added a third on 74 minutes.
Hamburg clinch rare win
Hamburg enjoyed their first win in eight games to climb up to 15th place and out of the relegation zone thanks to ex-Germany midfielder Marcell Jansen's goal on 28 minutes which took the pressure off coach Thorsten Fink.
On Friday, Dortmund were stunned as Stuttgart produced a last-gasp equaliser to share the points with the league leaders. Striker Christian Gentner poached a point for Stuttgart at Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park stadium when he scored in the 92nd minute to break home-fans' hearts as the lead changed hands three times in the last 20 minutes.