BERLIN: Bayern Munich opened a ninepoint lead in the Bundesliga yesterday with a 1-0 win at struggling Hanover as the Bavarians wait to learn whether Pep Guardiola will leave at the end of the season. Guardiola’s contract as head coach expires in June and the club say an announcement on the 44-year-old’s future plans will be made today when the German league begins the month-long winter break. Daily newspaper Bild insist Guardiola will leave in May and claim Bayern have already made a verbal agreement for Carlo Ancelotti to take over. Regardless of who will coach them next season, Bayern finish 2015 nine points clear after Thomas Mueller converted a 40th minute penalty for his 14th league goal of the season when Hanover captain Christian Schulz conceded the spot-kick after the ball hit his arm. “It was clear that Hanover weren’t going to give any points away, so we’re delighted to get the win,” Mueller told Sky. But after sealing Bayern’s 15th win in 17 league games, Mueller said Guardiola has given no indication to the squad as to whether he will stay or go. “We’ll see what happens. Regardless of who is coach, the squad just wants to keep winning,” added the Germany forward. “We haven’t heard anything, it could be that he stays.
Besides the media normally find out before we do.” But this was the third game in succession where jaded Bayern have laboured to victory although the Bavarians have still only dropped five points from their 17 games so far for a season’s tally of 46. Second-placed Borussia Dortmund are now nine points behind Bayern after crashing to a 2-1 defeat at Cologne as the hosts scored twice in the final 10 minutes. Dortmund took the lead after just 18 minutes when Greece centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos headed home a corner swung in by Henrikh Mkhitaryan. But Cologne took the three points when Simon Zoller fired home from close range on 83 minutes before Anthony Modeste earned a yellow card for ripping off his shirt, yelling a primal scream, after hitting the 90th-minute winner.
Bayer Leverkusen climbed to fourth in the table with a 1-0 win at Ingolstadt as Mexico striker Javier Hernandez kept up his stunning scoring run. “Chicharito” claimed his 17th goal in Leverkusen’s last 14 games in all competitions when he stabbed home his 11th league goal of the season since joining from Manchester United. Europa League side Augsburg picked up their third straight win to move away from the relegation places into mid-table with a 1-0 victory at Hamburg thanks to Jan Moravek’s headed equaliser. Eintracht Frankfurt picked up their first win in eight matches when captain Alex Meier and Stefan Aigner scored in their 2-1 win at home to fellow strugglers Werder Bremen which left both teams just above the relegation places. Schalke are up to fourth in the table thanks to Friday’s 1-0 win against struggling Hoffenheim when Cameroon forward Eric Choupo-Moting was credited with a goal which deflected off Hoffenheim’s Czech defender Pavel Kaderabek. —AFP