RECAP: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover had a rough day in the Allianz Arena as their survival chances took a hit while Michael Bradley and the Foals hardly fared better on their visit to Schalke.
FC Schalke 04 3 - 1 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Schalke's Ivan Rakitic scored a pair of goals en route to dealing Michael Bradley and the Foals their 14th loss of the season on Saturday.
While Gladbach came into the game virtually assured of their position in the league and little apart from pride to play for, the hosts are still embroiled in a dogfight for the league title and quickly showed their resolve by jumping to an early lead in the first ten minutes.
Jefferson Farfan slid a pass to Ivan Rakitic well outside the area in the eighth minute, with the Croatian international curling his shot just inside the left post for the lead.
A poor effort by German World Cup hopeful Manuel Neuer eight minutes later allowed the Foals to equalize, as Argentinean forward Raul Bobadilla beat the Schalke keeper to a long ball from his own keeper to the left edge of the penalty area, then quickly put the ball away into the open goal.
The hosts retook the lead moments before the halftime whistle as Kevin Kuranyi headed a corner towards goal which Bailly was only able to deflect off the line, leaving the ball for Farfan to send into the net to put Schalke up 2-1.
They continued after the intermission in the same vein when Dante knocked over halftime substitute Mario Gavranovic in the area, with Rakitic stepping up to the spot to give Schalke the 47th minute lead.
Kuranyi looked set to further increase the lead with seven minutes remaining when he beat Bailly in Gladbach's danger area, but his tight-angled shot bounced off the post to safety.
Schalke's Jermaine Jones sat out the game while recovering from last summer's broken leg, and will likely not see any action during Schalke's final three games.
The loss drops Gladbach to 12th place with three games left on the schedule. They face their second title contender in as many weeks when they host Bayern on Saturday.
The hosts remain in second with the win, still within reach of the title trailing Bayern by two points and an inferior goal differential. They will expect to keep pace for at least one more week when they visit last-place Hertha on Saturday.
Bayern Munich 7 - 0 Hannover 96
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover had an afternoon to remember in Bayern's Allianz Arena, conceding a season-worst seven goals as they were blitzed by the Bavarians.
Hannover are embroiled in a fight down to the wire for their survival in the top flight, but proved to be no match for Bayern, who are also in a duel for their position in the league, however at the opposite end of the standings.
Ivica Olic first put Bayern into the lead in the 22nd minute when he headed in a cross from by left by Diego Contento following a well-executed short corner, then Dutch maestro Arjen Robben doubled it eight minutes later after being fed an inch-perfect long through-ball by Mark van Bommel from near center stripe, breaking free from the Hannover defenders and taking one light touch before beating Florian Fromlowitz with his chipped shot.
They removed any doubt as to their dominance with one minute left in the half when Robben setup Thomas Müller for a third, and turned the game into a rout just after the break with a pair of rapid-fire goals by Robben and Olic.
Croatian international Olic first headed in a deflected clearance by Fromlowitz from a Müller shot in the 49th minute before Philipp Lahm sent Robben Free through the Hannover defense for the team's fifth barely one minute later.
Müller then bagged his second of the afternoon two minutes past the hour mark with Olic acting as provider, then added the exclamation point just before full time, with Robben completing his hat trick in spectacular fashion.
Little-used Ukrainian midfielder Anatoliy Tymoschuk found Robben streaking towards goal amongst a crowd of Hannover defenders, however the Dutchman did all the work to worm his way around the area to evade them all, ultimately firing his shot from the edge of the six-yard box for his 14th league goal of the season.
The loss sees Hannover fall behind Freiburg into one of the league's two automatic relegation spots, also hampered by the league's worst goal differential.
Needing to effectively make up two points to reach any sort of safe standing, they will hope to capitalize on Leverkusen's awful run of play when the visit the fallen title-hopefuls on Saturday.
Ricardo Clark was an unused substitute for Frankfurt as they suffered an embarrassing 2-2 draw at home on Sunday to Hertha. With the team's hopes of reaching the Europa League effectively a thing of the past, he will hope to take the field for one of their remaining three games, beginning with their trip to neighboring Mainz on Saturday.
Jared Jeffrey was not included on Mainz's bench as they shocked Hamburg with a narrow 1-0 road victory in the Nordbank Arena.
Daniel Williams was not included on Freiburg's bench as they gave their survival hopes a huge boost with a 2-1 victory at home over fellow strugglers Nürnberg.
David Yelldell is out for the remainder of Koblenz's season and watched from the stands as they pulled out a 2-2 draw with Karlsruher SC, giving the team a thin hope for fighting their way into the league's relegation playoff spot over their final three games.
Matt Taylor was not included on FSV Frankfurt's bench for their vital 2-1 road win over Hansa Rostock, taking the team momentarily clear of the relegation zone.
Luis Robles will watch from the bench on Monday when Kaiserslautern try to move one step closer to promotion on their trip to Arminia Bielefeld.