Football: Bayern win Benfica warm up to go eight points clear

BERLIN (AFP) - Bayern Munich warmed up for Wednesday's crucial Champions League quarter-final at Benfica with a 3-1 win at Stuttgart on Saturday to maintain their iron-grip on the Bundesliga title race with five games left.

An own goal from Stuttgart defender Georg Niedermeier and a second-half David Alaba strike put Pep Guardiola's Bayern 2-0 up.

Daniel Didavi pulled a goal back for Stuttgart with an hour gone as he recovered from stumbling in the area to chip home while lying on the floor before Brazil winger Douglas Costa blasted in Bayern's late third.

The win gave Bayern three more points in their quest to become the first club to win four successive German league titles ahead of Wednesday's return leg in Benfica with Bayern holding a 1-0 lead.

Guardiola made five changes from the side which beat Benfica in Munich last Tuesday, but Thomas Mueller came on with only 25 minutes gone to replace Arturo Vidal.

The Chilean picked up a rash yellow card for a foul on Didavi and came off as Guardiola looked to boost his midfield.

With second-placed Borussia Dortmund at arch-rivals Schalke on Sunday in the Ruhr Valley derby, Bayern took their chance to go eight points clear.

Having won their preceding three games by 1-0 margins, this was another laboured display from the Bavarians at Stuttgart's Mercedes Benz Arena.

Bayern took the lead when Franck Ribery's cross clipped Niedermeier's boot on the way into the Stuttgart net on 31 minutes and the visitors extended their lead when Alaba fired inside the near post on 52 minutes.

Mid-table Stuttgart got back in the game when attacking midfielder Didavi, who will play for Wolfsburg next season, managed to lob Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

The goal came despite Didavi being flat on the turf, when the ball fell into his path after a mistimed clearance by Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.

In the final ten minutes, Bayern's Thiago hit the crossbar before Costa smashed in their third goal from the edge of the area.