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Football: Mandzukic claims brace as Bayern dismiss Mainz

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Bayern Munich picked up their 16th win in 20 Bundesliga matches on Saturday to maintain their stranglehold on the German league as Croatia striker Mario Mandzukic scored twice in a 3-0 win at Mainz.

Bayern had lost on two of their last three visits to Mainz, but this time the league leaders made their dominance of possession count at the Coface Arena.

"That was a very important win with regards to the title," said Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes.

"We knew it wouldn't be an easy game and we prepared thoroughly for it."

Midfielder Thomas Mueller gave Bayern a first-half lead, then Mandzukic showed why he is keeping Germany star Mario Gomez on Bayern's bench with a crisp header and shot to become the league's top scorer with 14 goals from 18 games.

After drilling home his shot on 50 minutes, after good work by left-back David Alaba and France star Franck Ribery, Mandzukic headed home Philipp Lahm's cross seven minutes later as the Croat claimed his fifth goal in three games.

"We are doing what we also did well in the first half of the season," said Mandzukic.

"We are playing well together, we are fighting for each other, we know the quality we have and we know we're there for each other. I believe that's what sets us apart."

The result puts Heynckes' side 14 points clear before second-placed Bayer Leverkusen host defending champions Borussia Dortmund on Sunday.

Having only quit VfL Wolfsburg last Tuesday, Croatia striker Srdjan Lakic celebrated his debut for Eintracht Frankfurt with both goals in their 2-0 win at Hamburg which kept his team fourth.

Bottom side Greuther Fuerth broke their 17-match winless streak with a shock 2-1 victory at Schalke 04, which left the Royal Blues with just one win in their last eight league games.

Serbian striker Nikola Djurdjic, making just his second Fuerth appearance, scored with a 92nd-minute header to floor the hosts.

Brazil midfielder Michel Bastos, who signed on loan from Lyon last week, had marked his Bundesliga debut with a 47th-minute goal to put Schalke ahead.

But the lead lasted just five minutes before 20-year-old midfielder Felix Klaus got his side back on level terms as Schalke have just one win in their last nine league games.

Australia midfielder Robbie Kruse warmed up for Wednesday's friendly against Romania in Malaga, Spain, with two goals in Fortuna Duesseldorf's 3-1 win at home to VfB Stuttgart.

Hoffenheim remain in the bottom three despite picking up their first win since November with a 2-1 victory at home to Freiburg after recovering from the concession of an early goal.

Having signed on loan from Spurs last week, Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes was four minutes into his debut when his parried save was drilled home by Freibrug's Max Kruse.

The Brazilian's blushes were spared by a first-half brace from 19-year-old striker Kevin Volland to give Hoffenheim three precious points.

Wolfsburg were held to a 1-1 draw by strugglers Augsburg.

On Saturday night, fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt need a win at Hamburg to stay in touch with the pack chasing Bayern.

On Friday, Bayern's on-loan striker Nils Petersen scored two late goals to give Werder Bremen a 2-0 win at home to Hanover 96.

Nuremberg host Borussia Moenchengladbach on Sunday.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130202/football-mandzukic-claims-brace-bayern-dismiss-mainz-0