Germany: Bundesliga
3 - 1
(1 - 1)
FC Bayern
A. Pavlović (45), H. Kane (70), M. de Ligt (86)
N. Elvedi (35)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

15:30 Kickoffs: Bundesliga "top three" all secure wins, Augsburg snatch late draw, Mainz lose again

It remains "as we were" following big wins for all sides occupying the top three places in the Bundesliga after the latest set of 15:30 kickoffs.

Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern München, and VfB Stuttgart all defeated their respective opponents: Darmstadt, Gladbach, and Freiburg. 

An exciting late finish at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion enabled Augsburg to snatch a late 1-1 draw against Bochum. Over in the Pfälzer capital, FSV Mainz's woes continued.
FC Bayern München have now rebounded from their round 18 upset loss to SV Werder Bremen with three consecutive victories. Thomas Tuchel's defending Bundesliga champions - after beating Union Berlin in a make-up match and taking out Bavarian neighbors Augsburg seven days ago - scored three unanswered goals against Gerardo Seoane's visiting Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-1 at the Allianz this afternoon. Bayern remain two points behind league leaders Bayer 04 Leverkusen thanks to the fact that Xabi Alonso's Werkself also beat Darmstadt in their 15:30 kickoff. Stuttgart too kept pace in third place with a 3-1 win over visiting Freiburg.

FCB trainer Tuchel made two changes to the side that bested Augsburg 3-2 in the league last weekend. Make-shift right-back Raphaël Guerreiro took a seat in favor of Moroccan Noussair Mazraoui, recently returned from international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations. Despite the fact that he conceded a penalty last week, Tuchel tapped Thomas Müller to take the place of the injured Kingsley Coman. Jamal Musiala moved out wide to take Coman's place on the wings while Müller worked the central ten-slot. Gladbach gaffer Seoane went with two changes from last week. Rocco Reitz and Nathan Ngoumou dispatched Robin Hack and Manu Koné to the bench. Seoane maintained his 4-4-2 sweeper formation.

The record champions dominated possession in the opening minutes and it was not long before the Bavarians produced the first major chance of the match. A very nice combo between Mazraoui and Harry Kane enabled Leroy Sané to get an effort off in the 5th. The German national team attacker ripped a powerful effort from close range that rattled off the underside of the crossbar. Sané had another narrow miss five minutes later. One-way traffic in favor of the hosts continued on for the opening half hour. A technically marvelous free-kick from Kane forced an equally impressive save out of BMG keeper Moritz Nicolas in the 31st.

Suddenly - out of nowhere - chances for Gladbach began emerging. Franck Honorat and Florian Neuhaus both got looks at goal during a flurry in the 33rd. Matthijs de Ligt had to clear Neuhaus' effort off the line. Within a couple of minutes, the foals grabbed a surprise lead. BMG defender Nicolas Elvedi took advantage of a passing error out of the back from Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer. After a crisp give-and-go with striker Jordan, Elvedi netted the 1-0 in the 35th. Bayern were rattled for a few minutes, but did notch the equalizer before the break. Sané and Müller did extremely well to set-up young midfielder Aleksandr Pavlovic in the 45th. The teenage phenom scored his second goal in as many matches.

Both teams emerged from there tunnel with plenty of energy at the restart. End-to-end action didn't necessarily yield many highlight worthy opportunities, but the intent from the two opposing sides was certainly discernible. Musiala had perhaps the best chance to put Bayern ahead in the 48th. Kane finally gave the favored hosts their lead in the 70th. Leon Goretzka pounced on a loose ball and sent a cross into the box. Müller fought Nicolas to an aerial draw attempting to reach the ball. Kane thus had an empty net in which to head home his 24th league goal.

The foals admirably poured forward in search of an equalizer and the match didn't truly flatten out until the 80th minute. De Ligt put the game to bed with a headed finish of a Sané cross on the 3-1 in the 86th. With the result secured, there were some more chances for the German giants. Kane regrettably missed out on a brace with a solid chance near the end The subbed-on Mathys Tel again looked very good off the bench and nearly scored the 4-1 at the start of second-half injury time.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, league-leaders Bayer 04 Leverkusen were also able to take care of business against last-placed league side SV Darmstadt 98. Nathan Tella - surprising starting above Jeremie Frimpong after an ineffective performance from the Dutchman last week - bagged a brace in the 2-0 win for Xabi Alonso's Werkself. The Bundesliga's other "top-three" side also kept pace with a 3-1 win over visiting SC Freiburg. Christian Stretch's Breisgauer did manage to fight back from a 0-2 deficit (and a red card!) inside of 20 minutes, but were ultimately undone.

An exciting finish at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion in Bochum saw FC Augsburg awarded a late penalty for the second straight week. Bochum took a 1-0 lead into second half injury time. The penalty nevertheless delivered FCA skipper Ermedin Demirovic another chance to convert a late spot kick. The captain successfully slotted home again to give his team a 1-1 draw. Over at the MEWA Arena, there was no such luck for FSV Mainz 05. The Bundesliga's 17th-placed side fell 0-1 to visiting SV Werder Bremen.

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