Mario Mandzukic scored twice as a nervous Bayern Munich struggled past Hertha BSC 3-2 on Saturday to stay top of the Bundesliga, with second-placed Borussia Dortmund claiming a 3-1 victory against Schalke 04.
Substitute Mandzukic, who had come on for the injured Arjen Robben in the 26th minute, headed in three minutes later to cancel out a quick Hertha lead through Adrian Ramos.
Bayern, who had 35 efforts on goal in their 4-0 UEFA Champions League win over Viktoria Plzen on Wednesday, needed almost 20 minutes to get their first shot on target, with goalkeeper Thomas Kraft punching Toni Kroos’ powerful drive wide.
Aggressive Hertha came close to a second goal with Anis Ben-Hatira’s sensational long-range chip over goalkeeper Manuel Neuer that bounced off the bar, but Mandzukic leveled the score with a well-timed header at the far post and go joint top on the scorers’ list with seven goals.
The Croatian added another goal in the 51st minute and fellow substitute Mario Goetze headed in three minutes later.
Ben-Hatira set up a nervous second half, cutting the deficit in the 58th minute, but Hertha, the first team in the league to score twice against Bayern this season, were unable to find an equalizer.
“This was one of the best teams we have played against this season,” Bayern coach Pep Guardiola told reporters.
The victory still stretched Bayern’s unbeaten league run to 35 games, one short of the record held by Hamburg SV, and last season’s treble winners lead the standings with 26 points.
Winger Franck Ribery also became the first Bundesliga player to have played 39 consecutive games without defeat.
Dortmund, who eased past rivals Schalke in a fiery Ruhr Valley derby after the kickoff was briefly delayed due to flares lit in the stands, are a point behind along with Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 2-1 winners over Augsburg.
Dortmund, whose visiting fans lit flares in the stands prompting the referee to delay the start of the match, silenced the 60,000 crowd with a lightning quick break completed by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the 14th minute.
Schalke’s Kevin-Prince Boateng missed the biggest chance to level when his penalty was saved by goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller.
A sublime left-footed drive from Nuri Sahin six minutes after the restart gave Dortmund a two-goal lead, before Max Meyer pulled one back for the hosts, but Jakub Blaszczykowski completed the win in the 74th minute leaving Schalke in sixth on 14 points.
VfL Wolfsburg leapfrogged into fifth spot with a dominant 3-0 win over toothless Werder Bremen, with Croatian forwards Ivica Olic and Ivan Perisic notching a goal each.
Hannover 96 slumped to a 4-1 defeat against TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and had two players sent off, including striker Mame Diouf, who set a Bundesliga record for the fastest dismissal for two bookings after being shown two yellow cards in the opening 12 minutes.
FSV Mainz 05 moved up to 10th after grabbing their first win in seven games, with Shinji Okazaki scoring both goals in their 2-0 victory over Eintracht Braunschweig.