Football: Champions Bayern down Hanover to top league

Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Thomas Mueller (L-R) of FC Bayern Munich celebrate Munich's second goal against Hanover 96 during their German first division Bundesliga soccer match in Munich September 14, 2013. Bayern Munich topped the Bundesliga fo
Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Thomas Mueller (L-R) of FC Bayern Munich celebrate Munich's second goal against Hanover 96 during their German first division Bundesliga soccer match in Munich September 14, 2013. Bayern Munich topped the Bundesliga for the first time this season with a 2-0 win over Hanover 96 on Saturday as they prepare to defend their Champions League title. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BERLIN (AFP) - Bayern Munich topped the Bundesliga for the first time this season with a 2-0 win over Hanover 96 on Saturday as they prepare to defend their Champions League title.

Second-half goals by Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic and France winger Franck Ribery gave Bayern the three points at Munich's Allianz Arena, which saw the Bavarians knock Borussia Dortmund, who host Hamburg later, off top spot.

It was the ideal preparation for Pep Guardiola's team, who begin their Champions League campaign at home to CSKA Moscow on Tuesday.

"For us, games after the international break are always hard. "We weren't tired but our rhythm was missing," said Guardiola after most of his squad returned from international duty in midweek.

"We played better after going ahead and we're ready now for the Champions League on Tuesday." Dutch winger Arjen Robben played a big part in both goals as Bayern enjoyed around 70 per cent ball possession.

Vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger spent the game on the bench as he recovers from strained ankle ligaments, but should play on Tuesday.

Hanover, who last won in Munich seven years ago, squandered a chance when Ivory Coast forward Didier Ya Konan hit the crossbar in the first half and the result sees them slip down to fourth.

Bayer Leverkusen, who launch their Champions League campaign at English giants Manchester United on Tuesday, warmed up for their Old Trafford clash with a convincing 3-1 win over 10-man VfL Wolfsburg to stay third.

"I'm happy with the second-half performance, we ran around too much early on, but we were better after the break and could have had more goals," said coach Sami Hyypia.

Germany winger Sidney Sam put the hosts ahead before Wolfsburg's Croatia striker Ivica Olic levelled just before the break.

Bayer striker Stefan Kiessling netted twice to give Leverkusen their fourth win from their opening five games, heading home on 65 minutes before slamming in his second in added time.

Wolves were reduced to 10 men when ex-Bayern Munich midfielder Luiz Gustavo was sent off in the final 10 minutes, for the second time this season for a second yellow card.

The Brazilian had only just returned from suspension after being dismissed in the 2-0 defeat at Mainz at the end of August.

Schalke 04, who host Steaua Bucharest in the Champions League on Wednesday, continued their revival by picking up their second victory.

New signing Kevin-Prince Boateng hit the first-half winner in only his second league match since arriving from AC Milan.

"We're up for it, that's obvious. We were defensively very strong at Mainz, compliment to the boys in defence," said Boateng. "If we produce the same against Steaua, we can get another positive result." The victory lifts the Royal Blues up to eighth, while Mainz are fifth.

Werder Bremen crashed to their third consecutive defeat when they went down 3-0 at home to Eintracht Frankfurt, with Czech Republic striker Vaclav Kadlec scoring two first-half goals before Austria defender Sebastian Proedl added a late own-goal to complete Bremen's misery.

Augsburg needed a 90th-minute winner from midfielder Tobias Werner to seal a 2-1 win at home to Freiburg while on Friday VfB Stuttgart earned a 1-0 win in the capital against Hertha Berlin, picking up their second win under caretaker coach Thomas Schneider.