European champions Bayern Munich took a significant step towards retaining the Bundesliga title with their first win at rivals Borussia Dortmund in four years.
Former Dortmund hero Mario Goetze came off the bench and produced a super shot to give Bayern the lead on 66 minutes before Arjen Robben and Thomas Mueller added to the 3-0 rout in the final five minutes of Saturday’s German Clasico.
It was Bayern’s first Bundesliga win over Dortmund in seven attempts and extended Munich’s record unbeaten run in the German league to 38 matches in a repeat of May’s Champions League final.
The result at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion left Bayern four points clear of Bayer Leverkusen, who replaced Dortmund in second place, while Pep Guardiola’s Munich are an ominous seven points ahead of Borussia.
“We are very happy because we won against the best counter-attacking team in the world,” said Bayern coach Pep Guardiola.
“In the first 15 minutes we played very well, but didn’t do so well at the end of the first half.
“We were clearly better in the second half, especially with Thiago, Mario Goetze, Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm.”
Dortmund came into the game having suffered a double injury blow after both Germany defenders Mats Hummels and Marcel Schmelzer were ruled out with injury on Wednesday.
Bayern, in contrast were missing only France winger Franck Ribery from their first-choice line-up and Guardiola could bring Goetze and Spain star Thiago Alcantara off the bench.
Defending champions Bayern are at CSKA Moscow in the Champions League on Wednesday, but have already booked their place in the knock-out stages.
Dortmund had their chances, with seven shots on goal compared to Bayern’s 10, but Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan wasted clear chances while Bayern made theirs count.
“We cannot overstate the win,” beamed goal-scorer Robben.
“It was still 1-0 up until the 85th minute, it looks like a decisive win, but Dortmund had their chances.
“We put the space we had to good effect and perhaps deserved to win.
“As a young boy, you dream of playing in stadiums like this.”
Dortmund have no time to lick their wounds with Napoli next up on Tuesday in a game they must win to keep alive their dreams of reaching the Champions League’s knock-out stages and are third in their group behind leaders Arsenal and Napoli.
“Bayern changed their game in the second half and hit a few long balls, they were patient,” said Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp.
“I believe that up until the 1-0, we had big chances, you have to put those away if you want to get back into a game like this.”
Dortmund have had a few tough weeks, losing to Arsenal at home in the Champions League and this was their third straight defeat after also losing at Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga.
“Games are decided by goals - and at the moment we’re not scoring the crucial ones,” said Dortmund captain Roman Weidenfeller.
“The amount we lost by is ultimately irrelevant.
“It’s a bitter defeat, as we played a good game over nearly 80 minutes and have nothing to show for it.”
Leverkusen also topped Hertha 1-0 thanks to a Stefan Kiessling strike to leapfrog Dortmund into second place, while Frankfurt and Schalke drew 3-3.
Former Inter striker Antonio Cassano scored a late winner for Parma to put a dent in Napoli’s title hopes while at the San Siro 10-man Genoa held AC Milan to a 1-1 draw in Serie A.
Napoli remain in third but their third defeat of the campaign, and second consecutively following a 3-0 reverse at Juventus a fortnight ago, has given leaders Roma and second-placed Juventus an unexpected title boost.
Ahead of Sunday’s fixtures Roma, who host Cagliari late on Sunday, hold a one-point lead over champions Juventus who can stretch their lead over Napoli to six points away to Livorno earlier on Sunday and possibly go top of the league.
Napoli’s defeat has also given incentive to Inter, who sit fourth at three points adrift of Rafael Benitez’s men.
On paper, the international break was not kind to Napoli but Benitez said it was no excuse.
“All the leading teams have to deal with international duty,” the Spaniard told Sky Sport Italia.
“I’m disappointed, we didn’t play to our usual level and when that happens and your opponents take advantage, it makes it harder for us.”
Desperate to make amends for their reverse in Turin, the hosts dominated throughout but ultimately failed to hit the net, the first miss coming early on when Antonio Mirante blocked Gonzalo Higuain’s angled drive from close in.
Jonathan Biabiany and then Nicola Sansone then spurned chances for Parma, the latter spinning a first-timer wide from eight metres out while unmarked by the Napoli defence.
Lorenzo Insigne sent a curling shot wide and then Higuain missed the target again on the half hour to leave the hosts frustrated at the break.
Napoli dominated the early exchanges after the interval and had the ball in the net thanks to Higuain on 70 minutes only for it to be ruled offside.
Minutes later, Cassano silenced the San Paolo after being allowed to run down on goal and send a low angled strike past the hands of outstretched Pepe Reina.
Napoli sniffed a leveller in the 89th minute but Belgian substitute Dries Mertens’ long-range free kick smacked off the crossbar.
Ahead of their Champions League meeting at Borussia Dortmund, Napoli are sweating on the fitness of Slovakian midfielder Marek Hamsik who made an appearance late in the second half only to limp off nine minutes later.
“We’ll have to wait and see,” added Benitez.
Milan had been looking to claim their first league win since a 1-0 win over Udinese in mid-October and took a fourth-minute lead thanks to Kaka.
It was the Brazilian’s 97th goal for the club, but Milan’s joy was short-lived.
Urby Emanuelson was adjudged to have shoved Sime Vrsaljko in the area and Alberto Gilardino stepped up to beat Christian Abbiati from the spot to pull Genoa level on eight minutes.
Milan were given a chance to restore their lead just after the half hour when Mario Balotelli, looking for his first league goal in two months, was hauled down by Thomas Manfredini whilst about to shoot.
Manfredini was shown a straight red card in the 36th minute but Balotelli’s soft spot-kick was easily collected by Mattia Perin in the visitors’ goal.
Milan came close in 10 thrilling, closing minutes but failed to make their advantage count and settled for a fifth draw in 13 games which left them 18 points off the lead and 14 behind the first Champions League qualifying place.
The hosts were widely booed and insulted as they left the pitch in a sign that it is not just coach Massimiliano Allegri who is under pressure ahead of a crucial Champions League clash away to Celtic on Tuesday.
“We had a lot of chances, we missed a penalty and they scored from the spot on what was practically their only real chance,” said Allegri, whose side were later blocked inside the stadium as hundreds of hardline supporters gathered outside.
“We’re bitter not to have taken the win, that’s been over a month but we have to keep believing.”
Paris Saint-Germain kept their unbeaten start to the season intact with a dominant 3-0 win at Reims which extended their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to seven points on Saturday.
PSG, who suffered their last league defeat at Reims last season when they lost 1-0 in the champagne region, gained a slice of revenge in a controlled, professional performance away from home.
Lucas Moura and Jeremy Menez shared goals either side of half-time and Zlatan Ibrahimovic added a late insurance marker while Reims missed a late penalty as Laurent Blanc’s men rumbled to their 10th victory in 14 outings.
Second-placed Lille host lower table Toulouse on Sunday while Cote d’Azur big spenders Monaco also face a must win situation at Nantes in a bid to keep pace with the runaway leaders.
Also on Saturday, Lyon were held 1-1 at home by relegation threatened Valenciennes, while Lorient picked up a rare away win by thrashing French Cup finalists Evian 4-0.
The three other Saturday matches between Montpellier and Guingamp, Rennes at home to Bordeaux and Sochaux entertaining Bastia all finished 1-1.
A Reims, PSG cruised to their comfortable position at the top of the table.
“We turned in a really concrete performance today, created chances and took our goals,” PSG keeper Salvatore Sirigu told Canal Plus tv.
“We’re really happy with the win because it’s difficult to win here and we lost last season so we took a lesson from that,” continued the Italian custodian.
“We’re still continuing to progress and evolve but this is a good win for us,” he said.
The defending champions took a deserved lead on 24 minutes when Sirigu found Lucas with a clearance who in turn played a neat one-two with Swedish teammate Ibrahimovic which broke the Brazilian behind the home defence.
A composed touch allowed the 21 year old to tee up a right foot shot that flew into the left hand corner of the goal with Reims’ Togolese ‘keeper Kossi Agassa cleanly beaten.
Menez made sure Laurent Blanc’s men head to Benfica for their Champions League tie on Wednesday in fine fettle, after another explosive finish with 30 minutes remaining.
Christophe Jallet made a penetrating run into the Reims penalty area before finding Marco Verratti who then found Menez at close range to set up the strike for Menez.
Verratti’s clumsy challenge at the other end minutes later appeared to hand Reims a life-line with a penalty but Grzegorz Krychowiak’s spot-kick mirrored Roberto Baggio’s spectacular miss in the 1994 World Cup final shootout when he blazed his shot wildly over the bar.
Ibrahimovic, who finished last season as top scorer with 30 goals, moved joint top of this campaign’s charts with his ninth goal in the dying minutes.
A pathetic clearance from Agassa was gratefully scooped up by the Swede outside the box and he rifled the ball into the back of the goal to equal Radamel Falcao and teammate Edinson Cavani.
Reims were suffering only their third league defeat of the season and are now joint sixth with Lyon, Guingamp and Bastia, while Saint-Etienne can leapfrog all them with maximum points at Nice on Sunday.
On Friday, Marseille moved up to fourth spot with their second straight win at Ajaccio, a 3-1 triumph in Corsica, although Nantes can reclaim the Europa League spot if they can pick up at least a point at home to Monaco in the weekend’s final match on Sunday.
Celtic manager Neil Lennon praised the character of his side as they scored two stoppage time goals to claim a 3-1 win over Aberdeen on Saturday.
The Hoops looked to be heading for a draw after Niall McGinn had fired Aberdeen level minutes after Kris Commons put the Hoops ahead in the 35th minute.
However, Celtic’s relentless pressure paid off as Derk Boeriggter scrambled home his first goal for the club in the first minute of stoppage time before Commons grabbed his second of the game with a tap-in two minutes later.
It maintains Celtic’s five point lead at the top of the table and continues their 13 match unbeaten start to the defence of their title.
And Lennon was delighted with the never-say-die attitude displayed by his side.
“The character of the team is fantastic,” the Celtic manager said. “I think we can play better at home but it’s difficult.
“It takes two teams to make a game and a lot of teams come here and try to be hard to beat and break down and the onus is on us to find a way to do that and we’re doing it.
“The quality can be better but it will be better as the season goes on.
“We are unbeaten in 13 games which is a brilliant start to the season so I’ve no criticism of the team at all.”
It is the second successive home game that the Hoops have left it late after Charlie Mulgrew scored a stoppage time goal to deny Dundee United victory in a 1-1 draw earlier in November.
“You need patience at times. It’s not always going to be free-flowing football,” Lennon admitted.
“I know from my own days as a player here under Martin O’Neill and Gordon Strachan that you get games like that.
“There was many a time we won in the last minute of games at home and this team have got the same ingredients and I’m delighted with that.”
The victory gives Celtic a morale boost ahead of Tuesday’s crucial Champions League clash with AC Milan in Glasgow on Tuesday.
The Hoops must defeat the Italian giants if they are to retain any hope of matching last year’s feat of qualifying for the last 16 of the competition.
But Lennon was in positive mood ahead of the clash.
“We will be very, very strong coming into the Milan game,” the Celtic manager said.
“James Forrest will be fit, Anthony Stokes will rejoin us on Monday and Mikel Lustig had a rest today so he will be fresh.
“Psychologically the win will give the players a massive lift.
“I don’t think they need any motivating for Tuesday night, I think that comes from within.
“It is there for us and with a couple players coming back into the squad as well will make us stronger.
“They qualified last year so they know what it is about. They won their last game at home against Ajax and they played very well in the San Siro.
“I think Milan will be different as well and will have a couple of players back so I think all the ingredients are there for another great game.”
Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes said it was a stronger desire to win rather than Celtic’s quality that cost his side victory.
“We are just looking for that determination to get ourselves in front and it was that sort of determination that got Celtic over the line and secured them the three points,” McInnes said.
“It wasn’t quality that beat us and I mean that with all due respect to Celtic. They have loads of quality players and they’re playing here because they are winners and determined more than anything.
“And it was that determination to get the ball over the line that ended up beating us.”