Munich Beat Hamburg for Winter Title, Nuremberg Heartbreak
Munich (dpa) - Bayern Munich defeated SV Hamburg 3-1 on Saturday to clinch the unofficial Bundesliga winter title with one round to spare and become the first German league team to go undefeated in a calendar year.
Mario Mandžukić, Mario Götze and Xherdan Shaqiri were on target as Pep Guardiola’s team stretched their unbeaten league record to 41 games before departing for next week’s World Club Cup in Morocco.
The treble winners Munich, who will play their last game of the first half of the season in Stuttgart after the winter break because of their international obligations, have 44 points and top the table through the hibernation period which starts on December 22.
Bayer Leverkusen are on 37 ahead of their Sunday date with Eintracht Frankfurt. Dortmund have 32 after fighting from 2-0 down to 2-2 at Hoffenheim, and so do Mönchengladbach, who played to a goalless draw in Mainz.
Nuremberg failed again to get their first season victory in the 16th round, held 3-3 at Hanover in stoppage time after leading 3-0 at half-time.
Augsburg beat bottom club Eintracht Braunschweig 4-1, and Wolfsburg held off VfB Stuttgart 3-1. Hertha Berlin defeated ailing Werder Bremen 3-2 on Friday, and the second Sunday game is Schalke v Freiburg.
Munich rebounded from their mid-week 3-2 Champions League home defeat against Manchester City against Hamburg, although Saturday’s scoreline was less impressive than last season’s 9-2 against the northern Germans.
Mandžukić nodded home in the 42nd after nice work from Toni Kroos and Rafinha, and Götze doubled the lead from 12 metres with a low shot. Pierre Michel Lasogga briefly revived Hamburg’s hopes in the 87th but Shaqiri wrapped up matters in injury time on a rainy afternoon.
Munich top the table at the halfway mark for the 19th time and have only failed to lift the trophy in three of those seasons. Having lost for the last time in October 2012, at home against Leverkusen, they are the first to go unbeaten in a calendar year - as SV Hamburg lost once in 1982.
“The great year is the result of hard work for many years,” captain Philipp Lahm said.
Lahm said Munich now aim to win a fifth title of the year as well in Morocco, where Munich meet China’s Guangzhou Evergrande in the semi-finals Tuesday before playing in the final or third-place match December 21.
Guardiola agreed, saying: “We are flying to Morocco to win the last tournament of the year there.”
Sven Schipplock and Kevin Volland gave Hoffenheim a 2-0 lead against Dortmund, who advanced in the Champions League in midweek with a dramatic 2-1 at Olympique Marseille.
Pierre-Emerick Obameyang halved the deficit on the stroke of half-time after a mistake from goalkeeper Jens Grahl, and Lukasz Piszczek tapped the equalizer in the 67th. Dortmund almost won it when Robert Lewandowski’s shot slid under Grahl and against the right post, and Julian Schieber aimed wide from point-blank range.
“We had to show a lot of character, but also failed to convert our chances,” said Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp, whose team has picked up just four points in the last five games.
Nuremberg seemed on course to end a league record winless rot in Hanover from first-half goals by Adam Hlousek, Josip Drmic and Per Nilsson.
But Leonardo Bittencourt and a late double from Mame Diouf in the 85th and second minute of stoppage time left the visitors in shock and second bottom.