MUNICH, Germany ● After the euphoria of Pep Guardiola’s appointment as head coach for next season, Bayern Munich returned to Bundesliga action on Saturday with a 2-0 win at home to bottom side Greuther Fuerth.
Striker Mario Mandzukic scored either side of half-time after Bayern pulled off a coup for the German league on Wednesday by announcing 42-year-old Guardiola, who won 14 titles in four years at Barcelona, will take charge from July 1.
Fuerth have just one league win all season and Bayern enjoyed more than 75 percent ball possession to dominate their Bavarian neighbours at the Allianz Arena.
With Germany striker Mario Gomez left on Bayern’s bench until the last five minutes, Mandzukic added to his tally of 11 league goals as he first volleyed home on 26 minutes with some help from Fuerth goalkeeper Wolfgang Hesl.
The second came on 61 minutes when the Croatia star headed home a Toni Kroos corner having slipped marker Christopher Noethe to keep Bayern nine points clear of second place Bayer Leverkusen.
Bayer enjoyed a 3-1 win at home to fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt, although the first-half was briefly held-up at the 15-minute mark after away fans lit flares in their block.
Bayer bolted into a 2-0 led with two goals in as many minutes as Poland defender Sebastian Boenisch slotted home on 31 minutes after Frankfurt goalkeeper Kevin Trapp failed in his attempt to parry the shot.
Leverkusen striker Stefan Kiessling, the lead’s top scorer, took his tally to 13 shortly after when he tapped into an empty goal after midfielder Gonzalo Castro had drawn Trapp out of his goal.
Germany forward Andre Schuerrle made sure of the three points with the third on 58 minutes, before Frankfurt midfielder Alexander Meier scored a 78th-minute consolation, his 12th of the season, as defeat left Eintracht fourth.
Third-placed defending champions Borussia Dortmund, who have brought midfielder Nuri Sahin back from Real Madrid on loan, need to win at Werder Bremen later on Saturday to stay in touch with the leaders.
Mainz were held at home to a goalless draw by Freiburg after German-American striker Shawn Parker was sent off for the hosts after earning his second yellow a minute from time.
Hoffenheim remain in the bottom three and seven points from safety after a goalless draw at home to Moenchengladbach.
On Sunday, Nuremberg host Hamburg, while Fortuna Duesseldorf are home to Augbsurg.
On Friday, Schalke 04 earned their first win in seven league games, dating back to November 10, with a 5-4 win over Hanover to give new coach Jens Keller his first Bundesliga win.
Tottenham Hotspur-bound Lewis Holtby created two goals and scored Schalke’s fifth as eight goals were scored in the second-half.