MAINZ, Germany – Bayern Munich continued its domination of the Bundesliga with a 2-0 away win on Saturday over lowly Mainz in 21st-round action.
The latest victory by the Bavarians – and the failure of their closest rivals, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke, to keep pace – leaves them with a whopping 18-point advantage with just 13 games remaining in the German-league season.
Bayern head coach Jupp Heynckes made seven changes to his starting line-up at Opel Arena, keeping big names such as Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski on bench.
In the early going, the visitors struggled to assert their superiority against a team that not only defended well but also threatened Bayern’s goal.
Over the first half hour, Bayern had two scoring chances on blasts from outside the area by midfielder Corentin Tolisso, while the hosts also came away empty on two opportunities.
But Bayern gradually seized control and finally broke the scoreless deadlock in the 34th minute, when Franck Ribery fired a right-footed shot at close range that found the back of the net.
Ten minutes later, James Rodriguez doubled Bayern’s lead on a shot from inside the area off Tolisso’s cross.
Bayern had chances to increase their tally early in the second half but squandered at least four chances.
The defending champions eased up toward the end of the contest and allowed Mainz to pose more danger, but the scoreboard remained unchanged.
With the win, Bayern now has 53 points, 18 more than second-placed Bayer Leverkusen, which played to a scoreless draw Saturday against Freiburg.
Schalke (34 points), meanwhile, fell from third place to fourth place after being handed a 2-1 home defeat by Werder Bremen.