Bayern Munich made a winning start to 2013 to maintain a nine-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga with a 2-0 victory over Bavarian rivals Greuther Furth on Saturday.
Two goals from Mario Mandzukic were enough for the record champions to see off the challenge of the league’s bottom club in the first of coach Jupp Heynckes’ final 17 games in charge before making way for Pep Guardiola next season.
Furth put up a brave fight to keep the result respectable, but there was never any doubt that Bayern would take the points at the Allianz Arena.
Bayer Leverkusen kept up their pursuit of Bayern but their 3-1 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt was marred by crowd trouble.
Visiting fans lit flares and fireworks after 15 minutes to prompt an unscheduled break in the game, as the players were taken off the pitch.
Leverkusen returned to the field to provide pyrotechnics of their own with goals from Sebastian Boenisch and Stefan Kiessling.
Andre Schurrle made it 3-0 in the 58th minute before Alexander Meier grabbed a late consolation for Armin Veh’s men, who remain fourth in the table.
Borussia Dortmund welcomed back Nuri Sahin to their ranks by winning 5-0 at Werder Bremen.
Marco Reus, Mario Goetze, Filipe Santana and Robert Lewandowski had already put the result beyond any doubt before Sahin made his second debut for the club as a substitute, following his loan move from Real Madrid.
The midfielder spent six years as a first-team player for Dortmund before joining Madrid in 2011, but after struggling to break through at the Bernabeu, and following a truncated loan spell at Liverpool, he is back at the club he knows best.
He was on the field when Jakub Blaszczykowski made it 5-0 to Jurgen Klopp’s men, who remain in third position, still 12 points adrift of league leaders Bayern Munich.
Dieter Hecking enjoyed a winning start to life as Wolfsburg coach as his side completed the double over Stuttgart with a 2-0 win.
Diego and Alexander Madlung scored the goals, both in the second half, as the Wolves moved clear of the bottom three in the Bundesliga and to within three points of their opponents.
In an even-match, two defensive mistakes cost the visitors dear as they succumbed to a defeat which leaves them two points adrift of the top six.
Mainz and Freiburg both stayed in contention for European football next season after playing out a stalemate at the Coface Arena.
The game came to life late on when Mainz went closest to breaking the deadlock, but they were also forced to end the game with 10 men after Shawn Parker picked up a second yellow card late on.
The two surprise packages from the first half of the Bundesliga season were therefore able to remain in the hunt for a Europa League place.
Hoffenheim’s new coach Marco Kurz was able to end a six-game losing streak but could only celebrate a point in a goalless stalemate with Borussia Monchengladbach.
Kurz, who took charge of the beleaguered Bundesliga side during the winter break, set his side up with caution in mind, and although they created few goalscoring openings, they conceded even fewer chances.
On Sunday, Nurnberg denied Hamburg a place in the top six thanks to a Tomas Pekhart equaliser in a 1-1 draw at the Frankenstadion.
Hamburg were rewarded for raising their game in the second half when Arjoms Rudnevs’ goal gave them the lead, but it was not enough for Thorsten Fink’s side to take all three points in Bavaria.
Pekhart’s goal earned Michael Wiesinger a point on his debut as Nurnberg coach, and it maintained the eight-point advantage Nurnberg had over 16th-placed Hoffenheim coming into the weekend’s fixtures.
Augsburg fuelled hope that they could yet avoid relegation by downing Fortuna Dusseldorf 3-2 for only their second win of the season.
Sascha Molders scored twice with Ja-cheol Koo also on target for the Bavarians, who moved three points clear of the foot of the table and to within a point of Hoffenheim, who currently occupy the Bundesliga’s relegation play-off berth.
Stefan Reisinger scored two late consolation goals for Fortuna, who must now look over their own shoulders with the relegation zone closing in on them.
On Friday night, the Bundesliga kicked off 2013 in dramatic fashion as Schalke beat Hannover 5-4 in a thrilling clash.
Jefferson Farfan’s goal at the end of a tame first half gave no indication of what was to come in a dramatic second 45 minutes at the Arena AufSchalke.
Julian Draxler doubled Schalke’s lead in the 49th minute, but two goals in four minutes from Pinto da Silva and Szabolcs Huszti brought Hannover level.
They were not able to celebrate for long, though, before quick-fire goals from Marco Hoger and Ciprian Marica restored Schalke’s two-goal advantage.
Huszti replied immediately, but Hannover could not find a way back into the game with Lewis Holtby on target late on before Mame Diouf’s overhead kick gave Hannover a small late consolation.