BERLIN: Harry Kane scored the go-ahead goal to help Bayern Munich to a 3-1 comeback home win over Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday, keeping hot on the heels of leaders Bayer Leverkusen, who won 2-0 at Darmstadt.
Bayern stay just two points behind Xabi Alonso’s unbeaten side, with the two facing off next Saturday in Leverkusen.
“The big game is coming. We wanted to show our fans something,” Leverkusen midfielder Granit Xhaka said after the match.
But while Leverkusen secured a comfortable win at last-placed Darmstadt thanks to a brace from Nigeria winger Nathan Tella, Bayern were once again bailed out by Kane, who now has 24 goals in 20 league games this season.
Gladbach traveled to Munich boasting a brilliant recent record against the perennial German champions, with Bayern winning just one of their past six matches.
Bayern conceded early after a horror pass from Manuel Neuer allowed Gladbach to waltz through the penalty box, with Nico Elvedi tapping in from close range.
Bayern youth product Aleksandar Pavlovic drew the home side level just before half-time when he slid through the Gladbach defense and drilled in the equalizer.
Gladbach were courageous against an injury-hit Munich side who have lacked confidence and fluency since the winter break.
Kane however stepped up with 20 minutes remaining, heading in after a mistake from Gladbach ‘keeper Moritz Nicolas.
Kane’s 24th league goal of the season keeps him on track for the all-time record of 41 goals in a Bundesliga season, set by his Bayern predecessor Robert Lewandowski.
Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel set his sights on next week’s top-of-the-table clash.
“Leverkusen are playing an outstanding season, but we’ve got just two points fewer.
“We’ll travel to Leverkusen with a clear goal — to inflict a first defeat of the season on them and to overtake them into top spot.”
Bayern veteran Thomas Mueller was presented with a special shirt after winning his 500th match with the German champions, but told reporters: “I’m not such a fan of these commemorations.”
“Next week we play Leverkusen. The feeling of winning is a beautiful thing. We want to experience that in Leverkusen as well.”
Leverkusen’s win ensured they would stay top of the table ahead of Bayern’s visit.
Making his first league start since moving to Leverkusen from Southampton at the start of the season, Tella put Leverkusen ahead after half an hour, shedding his marker to head in a looping chip from Alex Grimaldo.
Tella doubled up early in the second half, blasting in from close range past the helpless Darmstadt ‘keeper.
Stuttgart took advantage of Borussia Dortmund’s 0-0 draw at Heidenheim on Friday, winning 3-1 away against a 10-man Freiburg to go three points clear in third place.
Brighton loanee Deniz Undav gave Stuttgart the lead after just three minutes, with Germany winger Chris Fuehrich added another just four minutes later.
Freiburg lost Merlin Roehl to a straight red card for an ugly studs-up tackle after just 18 minutes, but they pulled a goal back through Lucas Kuebler late in the first half.
Maximilian Mittelstaedt scored for Stuttgart with 15 minutes remaining to seal victory.
In Saturday’s late game, Cologne won just their third match of the season, triumphing 2-0 at home over Eintracht Frankfurt, who finished with nine men.
Frankfurt defender Niels Nkounkou picked up a second yellow for a foolish tug on the leg of Faride Alidou, with the midfielder scoring from the ensuing free kick.
Jan Thielmann scored Cologne’s second on the counter with ten minutes remaining to seal the victory, moments before Tuta was sent from the pitch for picking up his second yellow.
Still in the play-off spot, Cologne’s win allowed them to widen the gap on the automatic relegation places to four points.
Elsewhere, Augsburg scored a penalty in injury time to snatch a point in a 1-1 draw at Bochum.
Werder Bremen scored after just two minutes through Marvin Ducksch to win 1-0 at lowly Mainz.