Berlin (AFP) – A long-range Leroy Sane strike fired record-breaking Bayern Munich back to the top of the Bundesliga table on Saturday after the defending champions were briefly overtaken by Borussia Dortmund.
Sane’s goal sealed a 1-0 victory over strugglers Arminia Bielefeld, who kept Bayern at bay for the opening 70 minutes at the Allianz Arena.
It was another tricky domestic outing for Julian Nagelsmann’s team after a shock defeat at Augsburg in their previous league game.
But Sane netted for the ninth time this season as Bayern, chasing a 10th straight Bundesliga title, restored their one-point advantage over Dortmund, who they face away next Saturday.
“We were under a bit of pressure after Dortmund won earlier and we wanted to make sure we get on the bus there next weekend first in the table,” Nagelsmann told Sky.
Sane’s strike was Bayern’s 102nd league goal of 2021, breaking Cologne’s 44-year-old record for the most Bundesliga goals scored in a calendar year.
Bielefeld remain second-bottom in the table, four points from safety.
Dortmund had earlier gone top with a 3-1 win at Wolfsburg when Erling Haaland scored on his return from injury.
The return of Haaland is a huge boost for Dortmund ahead of their showdown with Bayern.
Haaland netted his 50th Bundesliga goal in as many games, just eight minutes after coming off the bench in the second half following a five-week absence with a leg injury.
He tapped home a Julian Brandt cross, adding to an Emre Can penalty and Donyell Malen goal for Dortmund after Wout Weghorst had given Wolfsburg an early lead.
“We missed him (Haaland) in the last few weeks. He’s a weapon,” Brandt told Sky.
The win came three days after a 3-1 defeat at Sporting Lisbon ended Dortmund’s hopes of reaching the Champions League last 16.
“We needed to show a reaction after the game on Wednesday,” said Can, who was sent off in Lisbon.
Third-placed Freiburg are now eight points adrift of second-placed Dortmund after their 2-1 defeat at Bochum handed the visitors a third straight league loss.
Serbian striker Milos Pantovic scored the winner eight minutes from time to ruin Christian Streich’s 300th Bundesliga game as Freiburg coach.
“It would have been a cool day if we had won,” admitted Streich.
Bayer Leverkusen can leapfrog Freiburg into third if they win at Covid-hit RB Leipzig on Sunday.
Leipzig have Willi Orban, Yussuf Poulsen, Hugo Novoa and Mohamed Simakan all in quarantine after testing positive.
However goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi could return if a PCR test is negative Sunday.
– Nine-goal thriller –
There was a nine-goal thriller at bottom side Greuther Fuerth as Togo striker Ihlas Bebou bagged a hat-trick in Hoffenheim’s 6-3 victory.
The result moves Hoffenheim up to fifth, while Fuerth claimed an unwanted Bundesliga record with an 11th straight defeat.
Augsburg backed up a shock win over Bayern last time out with a last-gasp equaliser to seal a 1-1 draw at Hertha Berlin.
Michael Gregoritsch levelled for Augsburg seven minutes into stoppage time.
Hertha assistant coach Andreas Neuendorf was shown a red card in the aftermath.
The point was scant consolation for Hertha after last weekend’s 2-0 defeat by Union Berlin in the derby.
Cologne hammered Borussia Moenchengladbach 4-1 in the Rhineland derby as Dejan Ljubicic, Mark Uth, Ondrej Duda and Sebastian Andersson scored for the hosts.
Denis Zakaria and Alassane Plea hit the woodwork for Gladbach before Jonas Hofmann equalised midway through the second half to cancel out Ljubicic’s goal.
Cologne pulled away with two goals in 90 seconds as Uth capitalised on a Florian Neuhaus mistake before Duda also hit the net. Andersson scored their fourth in stoppage time.