Huntelaar hat-trick ends Schalke crisis, Bayern Munich march on

Reuters, Saturday 8 Mar 2014

Bayern Munich
From left, Bayern's Arjen Robben of the Netherlands, Bayern's Dante of Brazil and Bayern's Franck Ribery of France celebrate after Robben scored his side's 4th goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between VfL Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich in Wolfsburg, Germany, Saturday, March 8, 2014 (Photo: AP)

Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored a hat-trick and had a penalty saved as Schalke 04 bounced back from last week's heavy defeats to ease past Hoffenheim 4-0 on Saturday and tighten their hold on fourth spot.

Leaders Bayern Munich's unstoppable march towards the Bundesliga title continued with Thomas Mueller and Mario Mandzukic grabbing two goals each as the reigning champions demolished hosts VfL Wolfsburg 6-1 for a league record 16th consecutive victory.

Schalke, who had lost 6-1 to Real Madrid in the Champions League and 5-1 to Bayern in the league last week, grabbed a two-goal cushion with Huntelaar tapping in from close range in the sixth minute and rifling in from 18 metres in the 28th.

He failed to get a first half hat-trick when he chipped a weak penalty into the hands of keeper Koen Casteels but Chinedu Obasi did it better in the 55th, drilling in after a superb Kevin-Prince Boateng pass in the 55th.

Huntelaar, who had missed much of the season through injury, made amends for his earlier miss in the 79th as Schalke moved five points clear in fourth place, with Wolfsburg in fifth on 39.

Bayern extended their lead at the top to a staggering 23 points from second-placed Borussia Dortmund, storming past Wolfsburg in a dazzling second half.

Brazilian defender Naldo slid in to connect with a Kevin De Bruyne cross at the far post for a deserved Wolfsburg lead in the 17th minute before Xherdan Shaqiri levelled after a goalmouth scramble in the 26th with the goal initially awarded to Mueller.

Bayern needed an hour to peak with Mueller and Mario Mandzukic scoring twice and Franck Ribery on target as well in an explosive five-goal spell in 17 minutes.

Wolfsburg had managed to contain the Bavarians for about an hour before surrendering to their quick breaks.

Bayer Leverkusen failed to move past Dortmund into second place after drawing 1-1 at Hanover 96. Dortmund, who play Freiburg on Sunday, are a point ahead of them on 45.

VfB Stuttgart conceded a late equaliser in their relegation battle against Eintracht Braunschweig to draw 2-2 and hover above the relegation zone.

Augsburg continued their fine run with an 81st minute winner by Tobias Werner to edge past Borussia Moenchengladbach 2-1 and stay in sixth, on course for a European spot.

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