Defending champions Bayern Munich went second in the Bundesliga on Saturday night with a 3-1 win at FSV Mainz 05, while league leaders Borussia Dortmund went 13 points clear with a 2-0 win over St Pauli.
Germany striker Mario Gomez, the league’s top scorer, completed Bayern’s rout with his 18th goal in 21 league games with a late strike after midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Mueller had put Bayern ahead.
Mainz’s Tunisia striker Sami Allagui scored a late consolation goal for the hosts, but Bayern warmed-up for Wednesday’s Champions League round-of-16 game at holders Inter with a win.
Bayern went second above Bayer Leverkusen, by virtue of a superior goal difference, as playmakers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery dominated Mainz.
“It was a fight, but we deserved the win,” Mueller said. “With Franck and Arjen in the team, we play with a completely different quality.”
Dortmund stayed on course for their first league title since 2002 with a home win over Hamburg-based St Pauli after Paraguay forward Lucas Barrios netted for the 10th time this season six minutes before the halftime break.
He then made sure Dortmund took all three points with a 49th-minute shot that took a deflection off St Pauli defender Ralph Gunesch on its way into the net for an own-goal.
“The team kept their concentration and were very disciplined,” Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp said after his side picked up their first win of the month after drawing their previous two games. “After talking about taking our chances, the team passed the test. We definitely earned the victory.”
Hannover 96 are fourth in the table after a 3-0 win over Kaiserslautern, with former Germany striker Jan Schlaudraff netting twice.
Hamburg SV coach Armin Veh left Dutch hot-shot Ruud van Nistelrooy on the bench for his side’s 4-0 win over Werder Bremen.
Van Nistelrooy has been unsettled in the Hanseatic city since former club Real Madrid tried to lure him back to Spain last month. In the Dutchman’s absence, Peru striker Jose Guerrero netted twice, to leave Bremen just a point above the bottom three, while Hamburg are seventh.
SC Freiburg’s Senegal striker Papiss Demba Cisse netted his 16th goal in 21 league games this season with a superb strike as he held off several defenders before stabbing the ball home on 70 minutes to seal a 2-1 win over VfL Wolfsburg.
The defeat leaves Wolfsburg just a point above a relegation place as they lost again after sacking former England coach Steve McClaren a fortnight ago.
Cologne continue to pick up points and showed their fighting spirit with a 1-1 draw against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.