Sun, Jan 17, 2010 - Page 18 News List

BUNDES LIGA: Bayern send clear message and go top

NEW LEADERSMartin Demichelis and Miroslav Klose scored to down Hoffenheim and send Bayern Munich to the top of the table for the first time since May 17, 2008

AFP , BERLIN

Bayern Munich’s Ivica Olic, right, heads the ball as Hoffenheim’s Sejad Salihovic looks on during their Bundesliga match in Munich, Germany, on Friday.

PHOTO: EPA

Germany striker Miroslav Klose came off the bench to help fire Bayern Munich back to the top of the Bundesliga after more than 600 days away as the German giants beat Hoffenheim 2-0 on Friday.

Despite being top-scorer at the 2006 World Cup, it was Klose’s first league goal of the season and he started the game as third-choice striker behind Germany teammate Mario Gomez and Croatia’s Ivica Olic.

Klose, 31, took over from Olic after 63 minutes and then netted from close range on 86 minutes to hand Louis van Gaal’s Bayern a single-point lead at the top of the table as action resumed after the winter break.

“It is good to be league leaders again and it was nice to be able to get a goal,” Klose said.

It was the best proof to van Gaal that Klose is back in business and the Dutchman said the victory was a clear message to the rest of the Bundesliga — Bayern are back in business.

“I think the rest of the league has seen we have a good team,” van Gaal said. “I have always wanted us to spread some fear through the other teams and I think we did this today. In the first half, we did not play well and we gave away too many passes. We played much better in the second half and we created many chances, not all of which were taken.”

Argentina centerback Martin Demichelis had opened the scoring for Bayern in the first half, but despite the win, Bayer Leverkusen could regain the lead when they faced mid-table Mainz yesterday.

Bayern have been crowned German champions 21 times, but May 17, 2008 was the last time they had sat on top of the Bundesliga.

The hosts took the lead at Munich’s Allianz Arena after 35 minutes when Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger crossed the ball from the right and Hoffenheim defender Josip Simunic headed the ball onto the back post.

Demichelis, who is set to play for his country against Germany in a pre-World Cup international friendly in Munich in March, stabbed the ball home from 5m out.

Klose, who has only made eight league starts this season because of injury, proved his status as Germany’s No. 1 striker with some clinical finishing to make sure van Gaal’s team claimed the three points.

Dutch winger Arjen Robben passed back to captain Mark van Bommel on the edge of the penalty area and his speculative shot was stabbed home by Klose, who was the fastest to react.

With 48 goals for Germany in 93 appearances, Klose showed just why he is, injury permitting, almost sure of being in Joachim Loew’s squad for the World Cup in South Africa in June.

The defeat leaves Hoffenheim seventh, but Bayern could still finish the weekend only third if both Leverkusen and Schalke 04, who face second-from-bottom Nuremberg today, pick up three points.

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