Leaders Bayern Munich extended their lead at the top with a 3-0 win in Cologne. Elsewhere, rivals Borussia Dortmund thrashed Leverkusen to pile the pressure on Roger Schmidt and Gladbach beat Schalke in the top game.
FC Cologne 0-3 Bayern Munich
(Martinez 25‘, Bernat 46′, Ribery 90‘)
The leaders dominated much of the first half and deservedly took the lead through Javi Martinez‘ first goal of the season. Just a few minutes before conceding that opener, Cologne almost took the lead themselves through Osaka, but Manuel Neuer proved once again why he is the best keeper in the world. In an entertaining match played at a high tempo, Bayern had more possession and the better chances and killed the game off immediately after halftime. Juan Bernat was afforded too much space to gather Thomas Müller’s cross and his shot was deflected past the despairing Thomas Kessler. Bayern’s lead was never in any danger and Franck Ribery put the finishing gloss on a comfortable victory in the final minute.
Borussia Dortmund 6-2 Bayer Leverkusen
(Dembele 6′, Aubameyang 26‘, 69‘, Pulisic 77‘, Schürrle 85‘, Guerreiro 90‘ – Volland 48′, Wendell 74‘)
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang notched goals number 20 and 21 of the season as Borussia Dortmund cruised to victory over misfiring Leverkusen. The home side proved more effective in front of goal and took the lead inside six minutes through Dembele before Aubameyang doubled their advantage. Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt made a couple of attacking changes and they paid off just after the break as Volland out-muscled Sokratis to pull one back. But their vulnerability from set-pieces was laid bare once again as Aubameyang headed in from close-range after the Leverkusen defense failed to properly clear a free-kick floated into the area. It was the 16th goal the Werkself have conceded from a dead ball this season. Wendell bent in a spectacular free-kick to haul Leverkusen back in the game, but Pulisic restored the two-goal advantage a few minutes later. Andre Schürrle then scored from the penalty spot before Raphael Guerrerio put the icing on the cake. Dortmund could have scored more and there will be serious questions asked of Roger Schmidt’s tactics after a result that could cost him his job.
Mainz 1-1 Wolfsburg
(Cordoba 24‘ – Gomez 20‘)
It was an honors even on an emotional afternoon for one player in particular. Mainz’ record goalscorer Yunus Malli made his first appearance back at the club since his move to Wolfsburg during the winter break. But he was overshadowed by his successor at the Opel Arena, Levin Öztunali. The midfielder set up Cordoba as Mainz immediately canceled out Mario Gomez’ opener. The draw was a fair reflection of a lively and open game and both sides can probably live with the point.
Hoffenheim 5-2 Ingolstadt
(Rudy 17‘, Szalai 61‘, 79′, Kramaric 77′, Hubner 88′ – Cohen 38‘ Süle o.g. 59‘)
Relegation-threatened Ingolstadt can count themselves very unlucky to leave Champions League-chasing Hoffenheim empty-handed. Their tenacity and adventurous style proved a constant threat and they even took the lead on the hour-mark through Süle’s own goal. But Julian Nagelsmann’s side showed just why they are in the position they are in with a ruthless display of clinical finishing in the final 30 minutes to keep the pressure on Dortmund in third.
Werder Bremen 2-0 Darmstadt
(Kruse 75‘, 90‘)
Rock-bottom Darmstadt started the game full of intent and dominated the opening proceedings. Felix Wiedwald in the Bremen goal has come in for plenty of criticism this season but he certainly kept his side in the match during the first half with a string of important saves. However, Bremen slowly started to turn the screw after halftime and got the break they needed with a quarter-of-an-hour to go. Aytac Sulu bundled over Claudio Pizarro in the area and Bremen were awarded a penalty. Max Kruse made no mistake from the spot. In the last minute, Kruse then doubled his and Bremen’s tally with a cool finish on the counter to secure vital points in the battle to avoid the drop.
Borussia Mönchengladbach 4-2 Schalke
(Johnson 28’,64’, Wendt 67’, Raffael 76‘ – Bentaleb 38’, Goretzka 83‘)
Gladbach came into the game full of confidence, as befitting a side with the best record in the Bundesliga in the second-half of the season. And they started full of intent, putting Schalke under a great deal of pressure early on. They got their reward when Fabian Johnson nipped in ahead of Höwedes to put them in front just before the half-hour mark. Schalke were then awarded a soft penalty allowing Bentaleb to level the scores. But after the break, Gladbach hit the visitors with a double-whammy. First Johnson, then Wendt scored in quick succession as Borussia displayed the neat, incisive style of football that has brought them two consecutive Champions League campaigns. When Raffael made it four, it looked as if Schalke would disintegrate completely. But they did manage to make the scoreline a bit more respectable with Goretzka’s late consolation. Gladbach are full of momentum now and could make a late surge for Europe.