Bayern Munich took another step towards their title defence after establishing a 10-point advantage, for the moment, atop the standings. The German giants lacked in penetration against Schalke’s well-organized defense in the first half but after the restart the hosts turned up to score three goals within 19 minutes.
The Bundesliga leaders took the reins from the kick-off as Douglas Costa almost scored the opener from close range following a rebound with two minutes on the clock.
Schalke created their first chance seven minutes later when Pierre Emile Hojbjerg tested Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer with a low shot to the bottom right.
Although Schalke’s defense kept the “Bavarians” on the distance for most of the time, goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann had to be on guard to deny Robert Lewandowski’s header on target with 29 minutes played.
Nevertheless, the hosts had to wait after the restart to open the scoring as Arturo Vidal headed into the path of Lewandowski, who had no problems to slot home his 26th goal of the season in the 51st minute.
Lewandowski remained in the thick of things as he sealed his brace and his 27th goal in the 65th minute after making use of Rafinha’s pinpoint cross into the box. Schalke were unable to put up resistance allowing Bayern to add another goal to their lead. Franck Ribery danced his way through Schalke’s territory before the Frenchman teed up for Vidal, who poked home from very close range in the 73rd minute.
With the result, Bayern reaped the 25th victory of the season to establish a 10-point gap to runner-up Dortmund. Meanwhile, Schalke stay on the seventh place and in touching distance to the play-offs spot for a place in Europe’s top competitions.
Hertha Berlin suffered a costly 2-1 loss at midtable Hoffenheim as they lost their direct UEFA Champions League spot to Bayer Leverkusen. Hoffenheim climbed out of the Bundesliga bottom after reaping their fifth unbeaten game in row.
Both sides focused on their defense in the early stages of the clash. As a result, goal-scoring opportunities remained a rare occurrence in the opening period.
However, things chanced around the half-hour mark as Berlin broke the deadlock following a set piece after Niklas Stark headed home a flicked on corner with 27 minutes played.
Hoffenheim remained unimpressed and responded five minutes later as Fabian Schaer nodded home a free kick cross by Nadiem Amiri to restore parity. Both sides staged an evenly balanced second half as either team had their chances to grab the win.
John Brooks’ header missed the target before Hoffenheim’s Mark Alexander Uth utilized Niklas Suehle’s assist to grab the 2-1 lead with five minutes from time.
With the third winless game in row, Berlin drop from the third to the fourth place whereas Hoffenheim jumped on the 13th place to ease their relegation worries.
Elsewhere, Bayer Leverkusen moved on the third place after benefiting on Berlin’s lack of from. The “Werkself” overcame relegation threatened Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 thanks to the second-half goals from Kevin Kampl, Julian Brandt and Karim Bellarabi.
Struggling Bremen wrapped up three crucial points in the relegation battle as they flabbergasted Wolfsburg 3-2 on home soil.
Darmstadt edged Ingolstadt 2-0 by courtesy of the goals from Konstantin Rausch and Sandro Wagner to win the clash of the newly promoted sides and Augsburg increased Stuttgart’s relegation worries with a 1-0 win.
The following fixtures conclude the 30th round on Sunday: runners-up Borussia Dortmund encounter Hamburg and Mainz host Cologne.