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Bayern keeps the pressure on Hoffenheim
by Ian Plenderleith, December 1st, 2008 7:01AM
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[GERMANY] Ahead of their big clash this coming Friday, the Bundesliga's top two teams kept up their winning ways -- Bayern won at fading Leverkusen, while Hoffenheim had it easy at home to Bielefeld. Bremen hit Frankfurt for five, while Stuttgart reacted to the sacking last weekend of coach Armin Veh by beating Schalke. Michael Bradley scored an own goal for Borussia Moenchengladbach as it crashed at home to fellow struggler Energie Cottbus. Neven Subotic helped Dortmund to another shutout, although it couldn't score at the other end against Wolfsburg, while Steve Cherundolo left the game at halftime for Hannover in its 3-2 home win over Karlsruhe.

Second-half goals from Luca Toni and Miroslav Klose saw Bayern take all three points from the weekend's big game at third-place Bayer Leverkusen. Every week we quote losing German coaches admitting that the other team was the worthy winner, and Leverkusen's Bruno Labbadia was no exception. "Bayern deserved to win," he conceded. "We didn't have the courage." Bayern's Juergen Klinsmann noted that his side "showed its class in the second half and controlled the game for large stretches. We've put our wobbly start behind us."

Hoffenheim spared struggling Arminia Bielefeld after scoring twice in the opening 11 minutes through Vedad Ibisevic (his 17th of the campaign) and Carlos Eduardo. It waited until just before the end before adding a third through Francisco Copado from the penalty spot. "If I had to make a criticism, it's that we didn't score more goals," said Hoffenheim coach Ralf Rangnick, whose team has netted 40 times in just 15 games. "At present we have a really good consistency. Now it's all about keeping that up in the next 19 games." And Bielefeld's coach Michael Frontzeck? "The victory was thoroughly deserved ..."

Claudio Pizarro banged a hat trick for the moody diva Werder Bremen in its 5-0 mauling of Eintracht Frankfurt, with the other goals coming from Aaron Hunt and a Diego penalty. "We moved beautifully and we scored beautiful goals, and that was a joy to watch," said appreciative Werder coach Thomas Schaaf. And no excuses from his Frankfurt counterpart Friedhelm Funkel. "Even though we played against a very good team, I'm hugely disappointed by the result. We absolutely deserved to lose by such a wide scoreline..."

Bradley turned the ball into his own net to give Cottbus the lead at Moenchengladbach in a game the home team went on to lose 3-1, pushing it down to second last in the table above Karlsruhe. Borussia's coach Hans Meyer said his team is consistently failing to play up to the standard of the top flight. "You can't play the way we played in the first half. We deserved to lose the game..."

Stuttgart scored two late breakaway goals to down Schalke through Czech midfielder Jan Simak and striker Mario Gomez, after the visitors' Jefferson Farfan had had a first-half penalty saved by Stuttgart keeper Jens Lehmann. And at last we have a coach who doesn't want to hand the credit to the opposition -- step forward Schalke's Fred Rutten. "That really hurts," he said, "to lose a game like today's. That wasn't necessary. We earned more than that. Times at Schalke are hard enough, and now they just got harder." That one should go straight to the top of the German country and western charts.

Cherundolo took a slight knock that caused him to leave Hannover's game with Karlsruhe at halftime with his side already 3-0 up through a brace from Mike Hanke and one from Mikael Forssell. American Sal Zizzo suited up for Hannover but stayed on the bench. Karlsruhe staged a two-goal recovery, but not enough to grab a point, while the win helped Hannover pull away from the relegation pack.

Hertha Berlin moved up to third with its 2-1 Friday evening win over Cologne, second-half substitute Marko Pantelic heading the winner four minutes from time. Bochum went 1-0 up on Hamburg on a fine overhead kick from Slovakian striker Stanislav Sestak, but the visitors leveled through Ivica Olic. Hamburg is fifth, Bochum third from bottom.

Friday: Bayern Munich vs TSG Hoffenheim (2:30 pm ET, live on GolTV)

Goals scored weekend Nov 29-30: 26 in nine games (2.89 per game)
Goals scored in 2008-09 season: 416 in 135 games (3.08 per game)

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