Bundesliga - Bayern take top spot with win over Hoffenheim

Bundesliga, Rhein-Neckar-Arena - Hoffenheim 1 (Sule 34) Bayern Munich 2 (Mandzukic 39, Mueller 75)

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Bayern Munich's Mario Mandzukic celebrates his goal against TSG Hoffenheim during their German first division Bundesliga soccer match in Sinsheim, November 2, 2013 (Reuters)

Bayern Munich returned to the top of the Bundesliga table after a hard-fought 2-1 win over Hoffenheim, as goals from Mario Mandzukic and Thomas Mueller cancelled out Niklas Sule’s opener.

The result puts Pep Guardiola’s side one point ahead of rivals Borussia Dortmund after their emphatic 6-1 win over Stuttgart on Friday night.

Mario Goetze was handed a start by Guardiola, with Mario Mandzukic and Thomas Mueller completing Bayern’s front three, supported by Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javi Martinez in midfield. Philipp Lahm returned to his familiar fullback position.

Both sides started off slowly in front of goal, with the majority of the opening 20 minutes played in the centre of midfield. However, after threatening to do so on more than one occasion Hoffenheim took the lead after 34 minutes, when Manuel Neuer’s fumbled cross fell to Niklas Sule at the back post. The defender made no mistake in finding the empty net on the half volley.

Bayern Munich wasted no time in restoring parity, with Ribery’s free-kick from 18 yards deflecting off Mandzukic in the wall and nestling in the bottom corner of the Hoffenheim net just minutes later.

The hosts picked up where they left off at the end of the first half after the break and should have regained the lead when Sebastian Rudy picked out Kevin Volland a matter of yards out from goal. However, the Hoffenheim attacker couldn’t keep his balance and fired his volley well over the bar, despite coming under little pressure.

Guardiola introduced Toni Kroos for Mandzukic in an attempt to inject more creativity into his front three, with Mueller heading over the bar at the back post just minutes later, when he really should have done better.

But Bayern finally found a second goal after 75 minutes, when Mueller tucked away at the back post after some opportunistic play inside the penalty area. Hoffenheim failed to clear the danger when they had the chance and were ultimately punished for it.

Mueller was presented with a glorious opportunity to put the result beyond any doubt after a speedy breakaway by Schweinsteiger and Rafinha, but the Germany international headed wide of the goal, despite having all the time in the world to pick his spot from a few yards out.

Hoffenheim pressed forward in search of an equalizer, but almost shot themselves in the foot as Bayern came close to catching them out on the break, but Schweinsteiger shot straight at Koen Casteels from a one-on-one situation.

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