BERLIN – Thomas Müller marked his return from five weeks out with injury by creating two goals as Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich went six points clear with a 3-1 win over Hannover on Saturday.
Germany forward Müller provided the cross which Arturo Vidal headed home, then set up Kingsley Coman to put Bayern 2-1 up at the Allianz Arena after Charlison Benschop had equalised for Hannover.
Robert Lewandowski, the Bundesliga’s top scorer, converted a late penalty to claim his 14th goal in as many games for Bayern this season.
“We had plenty of chances to score, which unfortunately we did not use, but I think the victory is deserved,” said Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes.
“Thomas Müller played again after a long time out, Kingsley Coman was injured for two weeks and Jerome Boateng is slowly returning to form, so I am optimistic for the rest of our games.”
The victory restored Bayern’s healthy cushion at the summit after their shock defeat at Borussia Moenchengladbach last weekend.
It also boosts confidence before Tuesday’s home Champions League showdown against Paris Saint-Germain, who the Germans must by four goals to win their group.
After Vidal’s early header, his third goal in his last three league games, Lewandowski had a goal ruled out for offside.
Bayern goalkeeper Sven Ulreich saved a first-half penalty by striker Niclas Fuellkrug, but Hannover drew level when Benschop headed past Ulreich on 35 minutes.
However, Coman restored Bayern’s lead on 67 minutes by drilling in Müller’s cross before Lewandowski’s spot-kick sealed the points.
Bayern extended their lead over second-placed RB Leipzig, who suffered a club record 4-0 defeat at Hoffenheim.
Midfielder Nadiem Amiri scored from a tight angle on 13 minutes, with Germany winger Serge Gnabry netting Hoffenheim’s second on 52 minutes after the Leipzig defence was caught napping.
Gnabry added Hoffenheim’s third on 62 minutes with a stunning long-range effort from near the centre circle, firing into an empty net with Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi off his line, before Mark Uth added a late fourth.
The result is a blow for Leipzig, who likely must beat Besiktas on Wednesday to keep alive hopes of reaching the Champions League last 16 at the first attempt.
After throwing away a four-goal lead in the 4-4 draw with Schalke last Saturday, the pressure on Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Bosz intensified further as his team’s winless league run stretched to seven games.
Despite playing against 10 men for nearly 50 minutes, Dortmund could only draw 1-1 at Bayer Leverkusen.
There was more bad news, with midfielders Maximilian Philipp and Gonzalo Castro having both picked up serious injuries, according to director of sport Michael Zorc.
Leverkusen deservedly went ahead when Volland netted his ninth league goal this season by racing away from the defence, rounding Roman Burki and tucking home with half an hour gone.
Leverkusen lost Brazilian left back Wendell to a red card on 40 minutes for a crude tackle on Dortmund midfielder Gonzalo Castro.
With 17 minutes left, Ukraine winger Andrey Yarmolenko, who replaced the suspended Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, rescued a point for the visitors.
Despite their dire form, Zorc insists they have not contacted other coaches to replace Bosz.
“No, we want to turn things around with Peter Bosz – that is our most urgent task,” said Zorc.
Augsburg are up to seventh after their 3-1 win at Mainz as Iceland striker Alfred Finnbogason netted a penalty before adding a late third.
Werder Bremen remain 17th even though striker Max Kruse scored his fourth goal in two games to seal a 1-0 win at home to Stuttgart.