German roundup: Bayern return to top with convincing win over rivals Union Berlin
BERLIN (AP) — Bayern Munich’s top scorer Jamal Musiala struck again on his birthday Sunday to help his team regain first place in the Bundesliga with a 3-0 win over Union Berlin.
After goals from Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Kingsley Coman, Musiala marked his 20th birthday with his 11th league goal of the season as Bayern suffered their first defeat in any game since November just before the break.
The 10-time defending champions regained the lead on goal difference from Borussia Dortmund, which has closed the gap by winning every game it has played this year. Dortmund went three points clear on Saturday after beating Hoffenheim.
“We were no longer ahead before the game, so something had to happen,” said Thomas Muller, who set up two goals in his 430th Bundesliga game for Bayern. Only goalkeeper Sepp Meyer has more with 473.
“I think it was a good first step,” Mueller said. “But just because we played well today, nothing will happen to us next week. We must deliver every week. “
Union are three points below the big two in third place, still a remarkable achievement for a club aiming for league survival from their fourth season in the Bundesliga.
The visitors’ hectic schedule of three matches eventually took its toll. Union beat Ajax Amsterdam 3-1 in the Europa League play-offs on Thursday.
“I think the boys should get a day or two free. It was a really tough two weeks where we played very well and we had to admit we had no chance today,” Union coach Urs Fischer said.
By contrast, Bayern had eight days to recover from last weekend’s 3-2 defeat at Borussia Mönchengladbach. Bayern looked fresh from the start against Union, who had started the day level with 43 points with the Bavarian powerhouse.
Sadio Mané came on as a substitute for Bayern, the Senegalese star making his first appearance since November 8 when he picked up an injury against Werder Bremen. Mane required surgery to reattach a tendon in his right fibula head and missed the World Cup.
Muller missed the first big chance of the game and Musiala was blocked twice before Muller took a good shot from Frederik Ronow.
Choupeau-Moting finally made the breakthrough on 31 when he rose between two defenders to head Kingsley Common’s cross at the far post.
Coman made it 2-0 in the 40th when Ronov’s rebound was quickly recovered. Matthijs de Ligt won the ball in midfield and Müller sent it straight to Coman, who rounded the goalkeeper before scoring from a narrow angle.
There was more time before the break when Musiala scored after Müller pulled the ball back from the end line.
“The second and third goals before the break really bothered me,” Fischer said. “Especially leadership. Of course it was not necessary. But if you invite Bayern, they will thank you.
Earlier, Sardar Azmoun scored for Bayer Leverkusen to escape a 1-1 draw at Freiburg, but the team’s flattering form puts European qualification increasingly at risk.
Leverkusen have won three of their seven league games so far this year and Sunday’s draw dropped the team to 11th place.
Freiburg dropped to fifth place, one point behind last-placed Leipzig for Champions League qualification.