Football: Mueller fires Bayern 11 points clear

Mueller (third left) celebrates with his team mates after scoring. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BERLIN (AFP) - Thomas Mueller came off the bench to score the only goal and Sven Ulreich saved a stoppage time penalty for Bayern Munich as they won 1-0 at VfB Stuttgart on Saturday (Dec 16) to go 11 points clear in the Bundesliga.

Mueller put Bayern ahead with 11 minutes remaining and keeper Ulreich saved Chadrac Akolo's 95th-minute spot kick to break the home fans' hearts.

There was plenty more drama around Germany's top flight as Brazil defender Naldo scored in the 95th minute to snatch a 2-2 draw for second-placed Schalke at Eintracht Frankfurt and maintain their 11-match unbeaten run.

There was also excitement at mid-table Augsburg as Iceland striker Alfred Finnbogason scored twice in added time to claim a hat-trick and grab a 3-3 draw at home to Freiburg after the hosts had been 3-1 down on 90 minutes.

Finnbogason's treble overshadowed ex-Bayern striker Nils Petersen who scored twice for Freiburg to hit six goals in his last three games.

Not to be outdone, strugglers Mainz also came from two down at Werder Bremen to poach a point in a 2-2 draw thanks to goals by Sweden midfielder Robin Quaison and then Swiss Fabian Frei, who equalised in the 93rd-minute.

Bottom side Cologne finally picked up their first win of the season 1-0 over Wolfsburg thanks to Christian Clemens' second-half winner, but his side remain 11 points from safety.

In Stuttgart, defending champions Bayern remain in pole position to win a sixth straight league title and maintain their iron-grip on first place when the Bundesliga's winter break starts after this weekend.

Head coach Jupp Heynckes named a star-studded team, which was frustrated until he threw Mueller on for the final 25 minutes.

The Germany star delivered in style when the Stuttgart made a rare mistake, leaving him unmarked on the edge of the area to allow him to smash his shot home.

For only the fifth time in Bayern's 17 Bundesliga, striker Robert Lewandowski, the league's top scorer with 15 goals this season, failed to hit the net when he wasted a late chance.

Ulreich, back in goal after a groin strain, was Bayern's hero by diving to his right to save Akolo's penalty after the video assistant referee confirmed Niklas Suele made contact with Santiago Ascacibar's knee in the area.

Having also scored their last-gasp equaliser when Schalke came from four goals down to sneak a 4-4 draw at arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund last month, centre-back Naldo again rescued the Royal Blues unbeaten run in Frankfurt.

Eintracht raced out of the blocks when Luka Jovic beat Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann with just two minutes gone and went 2-0 up 24 minutes from time when Sebastian Haller came on to bang home their second.

Breel Embolo pulled a goal back for Schalke before Naldo banged home a speculative long-ball to the delight of travelling fans to keep his team second.

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