Bayern's Title Chances in Tatters

Dortmund derail Bayern's title chances

Allianz Arena, Munich, February 26 - Borussia Dortmund continued their relentless march to the Bundesliga title as they cantered to a 3-1 victory over FC Bayern München.

A game that for once lived up to its pre-match hype burst into life with a 9th minute opener for the visitors. Not for the first time during the game, Bastian Schweinsteiger (who to put it mildly had a shocker) gifted possession to Kevin Grosskreutz, a slide-rule pass found Paraguayan striker Lucas Barrios, whose cool finish sent the travelling army of fans into ecstasy.

The league leaders' joy proved short lived as Bayern equalised out-of-the-blue on 16 minutes when Luiz Gustavo dodged his marker and volleyed home with aplomb from a Franck Ribery corner. It was the Brazilian utility player's first goal for the club since his 15 million Euro move from Hoffenheim in the January transfer window.

Lesser teams would have buckled at the equaliser but a fresh, youthful and vibrant BVB side were merely spurred onto even greater efforts, culminating in a stunning second goal from skipper Nuri Sahin from their next attack. The Turkish playmaker was allowed too much space outside the box and picked his spot in the top corner, curling in an unstoppable left foot shot past Bayern keeper Thomas Kraft.

Top scorer Mario Gomez saw his goal correctly chalked off for a tight offside in the 26th minute before Thomas Müller's goal bound shot was deflected over the crossbar as Bayern searched frenetically for an equaliser.
But Barrios should have sewn it up before half time when he ballooned over from close range after another sloppy Schweinsteiger error.

Holger Badstuber paid the price for a pedestrian first half performance and was hooked off at half time to be replaced by the Brazilian Breno. The German international has looked off the pace in recent weeks.

Dortmund wrapped up a memorable victory on 60 minutes with a powerful header from Mats Hummels, a bargain buy from FC Bayern in 2009. How the double-winners could do with Hummels in their defence, which at times looks all at sea with midfielders being played out of position and the inexperienced Badstuber clearly short of confidence. Only captain Phillip Lahm remains a steadying influence.

Bayern's go-to man Arjen Robben was strangely subdued and only caught the eye with a blatant dive in the box, which earned him a booking. His fellow wide man Ribery huffed and puffed but also could not find any magical inspiration to unlock a steady and resolute Dortmund back-line.

Rookie Australian keeper Mitchell Langerak was solid and you wouldn't have guessed he was making his league debut in this crunch title match. The 22-year-old exuded authority throughout and made a remarkable second-half save from Gomez to keep the home side at bay.

An elated Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp singled out Langerak for special praise.  "I am pleased for the boys. Langerak protected the winning margin for us and, all things considered, did a magnificent job," he said.

"There are so many positive elements to take for our development from this evening.  Most of my players were still in nappies the last time we won in Munich."

Dortmund's first success in Munich for twenty years is surely the final nail in the coffin for the defending champions' title hopes. BVB moved SIXTEEN points clear of the hosts, who drop to fourth place and worryingly out of the Champions League qualification spots.

In fact, another away defeat for FCB in Northern Germany Saturday against surprise 3rd placed side Hannover 96 would leave Bayern five points behind the 96-ers in the table. Panic stations would then need to be manned. The 2012 Champions League final is to be staged in Munich. Bayern would then face the very real threat of not even being invited to its own party!


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