BERLIN (REUTERS) - Champions Bayern Munich battled past gusty Schalke 04 to win 3-1 on Saturday and open up an eight-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga.
A day after rivals Borussia Dortmund lost to Hamburg, the Bavarians went ahead on nine minutes with a deflected David Alaba effort, but then found it hard going against a disciplined Schalke defence.
The hosts levelled with their first chance of the game as Max Meyer rounded off a superb break launched by teenager Leroy Sane.
Schalke, however, were caught napping in the 69th minute when Javi Martinez was left unmarked in the box and rose high to head in an Arjen Robben cross.
Robert Lewandowski went close to adding another goal late in the game when he hit the post with a low shot but Thomas Mueller slotted in with a clever effort from a tight angle in stoppage time for Bayern's third.
"It was difficult to win here tonight," Bayern coach Pep Guardiola told reporters.
"Schalke's five-man defence made it hard, they were quick in the central defence. But we did it and I have to compliment my players for their work," said the Spaniard, whose team are eyeing a record fourth consecutive league title.
Bayern's 12th win from 13 league games since the season started was a league record and moved them to 37 points with Dortmund on 29, following their surprise 3-1 loss on Friday.
Max Kruse scored twice as VfL Wolfsburg crushed Werder Bremen 6-0 while Borussia Moenchengladbach coach Andre Schubert equalled a club record with his eighth unbeaten game since taking over as they earned a late 2-1 win against Hanover 96.
Schubert, who took over after five straight losses at the start of the season, matched their great former coach Udo Lattek's record from the 1975/76 season with seven wins and a draw so far.
Ibrahima Traore put the hosts ahead before Artur Sobiech's 65th minute equaliser for Hanover. Raffael was left unmarked five minutes from the end and he did not miss, tapping in the winner to lift Gladbach, who also twice hit the woodwork, to fourth on 22 points.
Wolfsburg remain two points ahead in third place after easing past Bremen with Alejandro Galvez scoring an own goal before the hosts doubled their lead through Kruse on the stroke of halftime. The Wolves netted four times in the second half, with Kruse completing the rout with his second goal in the 87th minute.
Hakan Calhanoglu capped Bayer Leverkusen's 3-1 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt with a glorious goal, the Turkey international curling in a shot from the edge of the box, after a brace from Javier Hernandez, to lift them to sixth place on 20 points.