Bayern top Schalke 3-1, climb into 2nd in Bundesliga
Munich, Feb 10 (IANS) Bayern Munich cruised to a 3-1 victory over Schalke, a win that moves the six-time defending champions into second place in the Bundesliga and heaps further pressure on the league-leading Borussia Dortmund.
Playing without regular starting net minder Manuel Neuer here on Saturday, Bayern blitzed their opponents in the early going with a high press and created opportunities that Robert Lewandowski, James Rodriguez and David Alaba were unable to convert, reports Efe news.
But the fans at the Allianz Arena did not have to wait much longer, with the first goal coming in at the 11th minute on a play in which James sent a pass into the area for Lewandowski.
Two defenders tried to intervene, but one of them - Jeffrey Bruma - ended up inadvertently putting the ball into his own net.
Bayern continued to create opportunities in the ensuing minutes, nearly doubling their lead on a shot from inside the area by Serge Gnabry.
But Schalke then stunned the home crowd by knotting the score at 1-1 on their first opportunity, with Ahmed Kutucu finishing off a counter-attack play with a right-footed shot from just inside the area in the 25th minute.
Bayern retook the lead just two minutes later though after Schalke lost the ball in their own half. Gnabry played it to James, who then served a pass to Lewandowki for a goal near the edge of the box.
Schalke managed to keep the deficit at just one goal for the rest of the first half and even had a chance to equalize once again on a powerful shot by Yevhen Konoplyanka that Bayern net minder Sven Ulreich did well to save.
After the break, the visitors then had two good opportunities in succession to make the score 2-2, with Konoplyanka testing Ulreich once again in the 54th minute and Suat Serdar sending the rebound off the woodwork.
Shortly afterward, Ulreich made an outstanding save to deny a header off a corner kick by Bruma.
But after weathering that storm, Bayern got back on the attack and scored an insurance goal in the 57th minute.
On the play, Lewandowski received a cross from Kingsley Coman with his chest and attempted a half-bicycle kick. The Polish star was unable to get enough power on the shot but ended up playing a perfect bouncing pass that set up Gnabry for a header past a diving Ralf Fahrmann
Bayern nearly made the score 4-1 a few minutes later on a couple of attempts by Lewandowski, but head coach Niko Kovac then shifted the team's focus to defense down the stretch by inserting Javi Martinez in place of James.
With the win, the Bavarians (45 points) leapfrogged Borussia Monchengladbach and gained ground on Borussia Dortmund (50 points), who blew a three-goal advantage on Saturday before settling for a 3-3 draw against Hoffenheim.