Bayern hold on for win against Wolfsburg

WELCOME WIN:The German giants, in danger of missing out on Champions League qualification, scrambled to keep their lead in the face of spirited play from their opponents


Mon, Feb 26, 2007 - Page 19

Lukas Podolski and Mark van Bommel scored on Saturday to lift struggling Bayern Munich to a 2-1 Bundesliga win against VfL Wolfsburg.

Bayern, in fourth place and in danger of missing out on Champions League qualification for the first time in 11 years, moved two points behind third-place Werder Bremen for the league's final spot in the European competition.

Werder Bremen, however, still had a game in hand yesterday against the last-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Bayern appeared to be coasting after Podolski scored a penalty kick in the 26th minute. In the 55th, Van Bommel found himself unmarked after taking Bastian Schweinsteiger pass and shot inside the left post.

However, Bayern looked rattled after a 78th-minute goal from Cedrik Madiadi brought its 11th-place opponent back in the match.

"I think its going upward a bit," Van Bommel said. "I think we played well, outside of the last 15 minutes."

Bayern's defense was disorganized for Madiadi's goal. The ball ricocheted off several players in the area and the defending champions then scrambled just to prevent an equalizer.

"We talked beforehand about how Bayern lacks confidence right now," Wolfsburg player Kevin Hofland said. "That helped for 15 minutes, then we made some big mistakes."

Bayern survived several first-half Wolfsburg chances including Germany forward Mike Hanke sidefooting off the left post in the 43rd.

Schalke, which played Bayer Leverkusen yesterday, leads with 49 points, four more than Stuttgart, which drew 0-0 against Hertha Berlin on Friday.

Bremen is at 42 points, with Bayern at 40.

For the first time since the three-point rule was introduced in 1995, 10 sides are within five points of the relegation zone this late in the season.

Three of those sides, all once stuck in last place, are in the middle of impressive streaks -- Mainz, Hamburg and Hannover.

Mainz ran its record to a league-best five wins and a draw since the winter break -- when it was bottom -- with a 2-1 win against Nuremberg. The club is in the middle of one of the biggest turnarounds in Bundesliga history.

"I just can't fathom this streak myself," Mainz coach Juergen Klopp said. "We have just tried to climb back into this league and we have done that."

Forward Mohamed Zidan scored his sixth goal in three matches as Mainz handed fifth-placed Nuremberg its first loss since Nov. 7. Mainz has climbed to 10th -- although only four points separate it from relegation.

Hamburg won its third straight with a 3-1 victory against Eintracht Frankfurt. Captain Rafael van der Vaart scored once and set up another goal.

Hannover remained unbeaten in five matches, climbing to seventh place with a 4-2 win against Borussia Dortmund, a rival for an UEFA Cup berth.

Hannover scored all its goals in the second half, with Arnold Bruggink hitting two.

Energie Cottbus also beat Arminia Bielefeld 2-1 and VfL Bochum and Alemannia Aachen drew 2-2.