BERLIN (Reuters) – Champions Bayern Munich scored a 1-0 victory over visiting Werder Bremen on Saturday to stay on course for a seventh successive Bundesliga title.
Niklas Suele drilled in a 75th-minute winner to lift the Bavarians to 70 points, four clear of Borussia Dortmund, who are in action against Freiburg on Sunday, with four matches left in the season.
It was the first loss for Werder in 2019 and the first game in all competitions this season when they failed to score but they can make amends on Wednesday when they meet Bayern again for a German Cup semi-final.
“It was not an attractive game in the first half,” said Bayern coach Niko Kovac. “We did it better after the break. But Wednesday is a completely different match. It will no doubt be a tight game.”
Bayern had the upper hand throughout and fired more than a dozen shots before beating keeper Jiri Pavlenka, who had previously made a string of superb saves.
Serge Gnabry had the hosts’ best chance in the first half when he turned to latch on to a Thiago Alcantara chip but his volley was saved by Pavlenka.
The Germany winger then had a double chance six minutes after the restart but again Pavlenka came to the rescue, tipping his shot on to the post.
The keeper also repeatedly denied Bundesliga leading scorer Robert Lewandowski before his team were reduced to 10 men in the 58th minute when Milos Veljkovic was sent off for a second booking.
Bayern finally broke the deadlock when defender Suele shot from the edge of the box, the ball taking a slight deflection to beat Pavlenka.
Bayer Leverkusen kept up their battle for a European spot next season with a 2-0 victory over Nuremberg. Goals from Lucas Alario and Kevin Volland moved them up to sixth on 48.
Augsburg all but made sure of another season in the Bundesliga by crushing VfB Stuttgart, who are in the relegation playoff spot, 6-0 to put 10 points between them.
It was Stuttgart’s heaviest league loss since the 1985/86 season and left them in 16th, three points above Nuremberg, who are 17th.
“There is no explanation for it,” said Stuttgart coach Markus Weinzierl. “One can only apologise for this performance.”
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Tony Lawrence and Clare Fallon)