BERLIN (Reuters) – Forward Mario Mandzukic struck twice to steer Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich to a 2-0 victory over bottom club Greuther Fuerth on Saturday to protect their nine-point lead as the league resumed after a four-week mid-season break.
The hosts, who secured a major coup in midweek when they announced the signing of former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola for next season, never hit top form in a largely one-sided game.
It was enough, however, to lift them to 45 points, with second-placed Bayer Leverkusen on 36 after beating Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 in a game briefly delayed due to fans lighting flares and fireworks.
"We are satisfied with the win and another clean sheet but my team knows they did not play that well," said 67-year-old Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, who has hinted he may continue his career after leaving Bayern at the end of the season.
"Our game was a bit rough and not as fluid as usual and Fuerth played really well, closed down most of the spaces. The first game is always a bit tricky. We saw again today that the Bundesliga is no walk in the park," he told reporters.
Croatia striker Mandzukic put Bayern into the lead in the 26th minute with a tame effort that slipped through Fuerth keeper Wolfgang Hesl’s hands after he had denied the forward with a superb save a minute earlier.
Mandzukic grabbed his 11th goal of the season on the hour when he got in front of his marker to head in a Toni Kroos corner.
Leverkusen scored twice in two minutes with goals from Sebastian Boenisch and Bundesliga top scorer Stefan Kiessling, who netted his 13th of the season.
Andre Schuerrle sealed victory before Frankfurt’s Alexander Meier notched his 12th league goal to reduce the deficit.
Brazilian Diego set up one goal and scored the other as Wolfsburg moved up to 13th on 22 points after a 2-0 victory over VfB Stuttgart on coach Dieter Hecking’s debut.
Mainz 05 drew 0-0 with regional rivals Freiburg while Hoffenheim and Borussia Moenchengladbach also shared the points in their goalless draw.
Champions Borussia Dortmund, third on 30 points, travel to Werder Bremen later on Saturday.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Toby Davis)
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