Bayern Munich provided three first-half goals to beat 10-man Leipzig in the top clash, while Hertha Berlin tamed Darmstadt 2-0 to move into the top three at the closer of the 16th round of Bundesliga action on Wednesday.
The “Bavarians” will spend the winter break atop the Bundesliga standings as they moved 3-0 past the surprise title rivals Leipzig, who suffered their second loss of the season.
Newly-promoted stunner team Leipzig grabbed the first chance of the game as Timo Werner’s square pass dangerously crossed Bayern’s goal area in the opening period.
As the match progressed, Bayern Munich assumed full control of the proceedings on the pitch as Thiago Alcantara poked home Robert Lewandowski’s shot on target, which dropped off the left post in the 17th minute.
The hosts gained momentum and doubled the lead through Xabi Alonso, who capitalized on an assist from Alcantara and a turnover from Leipzig’s Naby Keita to slot home from the edge of the box in the 25th minute.
Things went from bad to worse for the Bundesliga newcomers as Emil Forsberg received his marching orders after seeing a straight red card, following a rude foul play to Philipp Lahm 30 minutes into the game.
Bayern continued their relentless performance and tripled the lead as Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulasci brought down Douglas Costa inside the box allowing Robert Lewandowski to reap his 12th goal of the season from the penalty spot just before the break.
After the restart, Bayern remained in control of the game and pressed Leipzig into the defense. But the German giants were unable to add another goal to their lead, despite promising opportunities from Juan Bernat, Franck Ribery and Douglas Costa’s.
With the result, front-runners Bayern moved three points clear of Leipzig, who remain in 2nd place of the standings.
Hertha Berlin returned to their winning ways and climbed into the top three after securing a 2-0 win over bottom-dwelling team Darmstadt.
Berlin controlled the ball but the hosts failed to overcome Darmstadt’s well-positioned defense in the opening period. Meanwhile, the visitors needed a half hour to gain a foothold into the match.
Darmstadt worked out a number of opportunities but neither Aytac Sulu nor Jan Rosenthal were able to mark the opener before the break.
After the restart, Berlin took over and increased their efforts to break the deadlock in the 53rd minute, when Marvin Plattenhardt unleashed a free-kick hammer from 30 meters into the top right corner.
The “Herthaner” extended their lead in the 66th minute, as Plattenhardt’s free-kick cross found Salomon Kalou, who headed home to put the game beyond doubt as Darmstadt lacked in penetration in the second half.
With their ninth win of the season, Hertha Berlin climbed from 4th to 3rd place, whereas Darmstadt remain in last place on the table.
Elsewhere, Cologne and Bayer Leverkusen played out a 1-1 draw in the Rhine Derby.
Freiburg extended their unbeaten run to four games after beating Ingolstadt 2-1, and Hoffenheim shared the spoils with Werder Bremen following a 1-1 draw.
The Bundesliga will return from the winter break on January 20 when Freiburg host leaders Bayern Munich for the opener of the 17th round.