Surprise package Hoffenheim stayed top of the German Bundesliga after a 3-0 home win on Saturday over Arminia Bielefeld, but Bayern Munich stayed in hot pursuit with a 2-0 win at Bayer Leverkusen.
Hoffenheim continued their fairytale season against Arminia Bielefeld after taking their goals tally to a remarkable 40 after Vedad Ibisevic fired home acrobatically for the opener on five minutes from a cross by Turk Selim Teber and Carlos Eduardo then ended a solo run with a clinical finish.
Francisco Copado then clinched matters with a penalty after Michael Lamey fouled Demba Ba.
Village side Hoffenheim, who have come from nowhere after consecutive promotions to sit atop the table, backed by multi-millionaire entrepreneur Dietmar Hopp, were paid a major compliment by Bielefeld coach Michael Frontzeck.
“They totally deserved the win. For me, Hoffenheim are the best team in Germany right now,” Frontzeck said.
Hoffenheim counterpart Ralf Rangnick said his side were still finding their way at the top level, but managing to stay consistent.
“That was a tough game, but we have found a good level of consistency. If I had to criticize, then we might have scored a few more today,” he told reporters.
Jurgen Klinsmann’s Bayern Munich put one over Bayer Leverkusen, coached by former Bayern man Bruno Labbadia, after Italian World Cup winner Luca Toni netted his seventh in the league this season 12 minutes after the restart and then Miroslav Klose celebrated his 250th career league appearance with a goal after good work by Frenchman Franck Ribery.
Bayern survived without German international forward Lukas Podolski, whom Cologne would like to re-sign.
Cologne general manager Michael Meier has indicated that Cologne “have a clear plan” as to how that might come about, amid media talk of a possible transfer fee of 15 million euros (US$19.3 million) for the unsettled striker who missed Saturday’s game with a back complaint, while Dutch midfielder Mark Van Bommel was also out through illness.
For now, Bayern must wait to see if their unexpected rivals slip up, but the Bavarians’ coach Jurgen Klinsmann said their earlier form problems were now behind them.
“I’m very happy with the win. We made a sticky start to the Bundesliga season — but now we’re really on our way,” the former German national coach said.
At the wrong end of the table, Energie Cottbus moved out of the drop zone after they notched only their third win of the campaign by claiming a 3-1 success at former giants Borussia Munchengladbach.
Chelsea misfit Claudio Pizarro managed the individual exploit of the day with a hat-trick as his Werder Bremen thrashed Eintracht Frankfurt 5-0 on the River Weser.
Pizarro, on loan from Stamford Bridge, had bagged two by the 20th minute and then completed his treble in the 63rd minute, sandwiching a Diego penalty and a clincher from Aaron Hunt.