Football

Published: Sunday March 23, 2014 MYT 2:02:42 AM
Updated: Sunday March 23, 2014 MYT 2:02:42 AM

Title champagne on ice as Bayern forced to wait

BERLIN (Reuters) - Bayern Munich put their Bundesliga title celebrations on hold despite beating gutsy Mainz 05 2-0 on Saturday, as Borussia Dortmund won 3-0 at Hanover 96 to delay the official crowning.

Bayern, who face Manchester United in the Champions League quarter-finals next month, struggled at times with Mainz's quick counter attacks.

They broke the deadlock with a Bastian Schweinsteiger header eight minutes from time.

Substitute Mario Goetze added another in the 87th minute after Franck Ribery rounded the Mainz keeper as they notched a league record 18th consecutive win.

The Bavarian club can still break the record for the quickest title triumph on Tuesday at Hertha Berlin with seven games left in the campaign.

"That would be wonderful," said Berlin-born defender Jerome Boateng. "To win the title in my home city would be great. We did the groundwork for that today."

Mainz confirmed their good recent form from the start with a flowing game that put the visitors under pressure.

They missed their biggest chance with Cameroon international Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who had scored four goals in the last five games, shaking off Philipp Lahm and thundering his shot on to the crossbar shortly after the restart.

Bayern responded with a chance of their own in the 55th minute, as Mario Mandzukic's powerful point-blank header was saved by 20-year-old keeper Loris Karius.

Karius, who until then had denied the visitors with half a dozen good saves, could do nothing to stop Schweinsteiger nodding in after a deep cross from Xherdan Shaqiri, who had come on as a substitute a little earlier, at the far post.

Ribery then rounded the keeper and pulled back for Goetze to seal their win in the 87th.

Bayern, who stretched their league record unbeaten run to 51 games, lead the title race on 74 points.

Fellow Champions League quarter-finalists Dortmund, who eased past Hanover 96 with goals from Mats Hummels, Robert Lewandowski and Marco Reus, are second on 51 points.

Schalke 04 kept up their domestic comeback to beat bottom-placed Eintracht Braunschweig 3-1 for their third straight win to remain third, a point behind Dortmund.

VfB Stuttgart lifted themselves out of the relegation zone, beating 10-man Hamburg SV 1-0, who dropped to 16th place.

Augsburg conceded an 81st minute equaliser by VfL Wolfsburg's Ivica Olic to draw 1-1.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Stephen Wood)

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