THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
BERLIN — Bayern Munich extended its lead in the Bundesliga despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Nuremberg in the 185th Bavarian derby on Saturday, as Schalke lost 2-0 at Bayer Leverkusen.
Bayern’s perfect away record was ended when Markus Feulner, who came through the youth set-up at Bayern, cancelled out Mario Mandzukic’s third-minute strike for the visitors with a swerving effort from long range after the restart.
"If we knew in advance that we’d claim a point against Bayern, we would have signed it straightaway. We deserved the point," said Nuremberg coach Dieter Hecking, whose side remains dangerously close to the relegation zone.
Nuremberg had several chances to claim what would have been only its second win from nine games, until Timo Gebhart was sent off in the 76th and the visitors came close to scoring in an exciting finale.
Bayern had previously won all five away games this season, and was bidding to match the Bundesliga record of eight consecutive away victories.
"It’s not a broken leg," Jupp Heynckes said after his side dropped points for just the second time this season. "You can’t simply win all your games. We can live with the draw."
Bayern is eight points clear after hapless Schalke failed to take advantage later.
"You could call it that," said Schalke coach Huub Stevens after being asked if it was his side’s worst performance of the season.
Leverkusen forward Andre Schuerrle scored before the break, when he received the ball on the halfway line, ran at the visiting defence and unleashed an unstoppable 30-meter (yard) shot inside the top left corner.
"It gave us confidence for the second half," Schuerrle said. "That was the can-opener."
Stefan Kiessling showed great footwork to elude Kyriakos Papadopoulos before scoring in the 67th, rewarding Leverkusen for a period of dominance in which Lars Bender struck the post.
Kiessling could even afford the luxury of missing a penalty, before Papadopoulos received his second yellow for a block on Schuerrle.
"The fact is that we were incredibly bad today. We knew that Leverkusen are strong on the counterattack and did nothing to stop it. We completely deserved to lose," said Schalke captain Benedikt Hoewedes, whose side hosts Olympiakos in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Defending champion Borussia Dortmund capitalized on its rivals’ slip-ups with a 3-1 win at home over Greuther Fuerth.
Elsewhere, Stuttgart won 2-1 at Borussia Moenchengladbach, as did Freiburg at Hannover, while Eintracht Frankfurt enjoyed a 4-2 win at home over Augsburg, and Son Heung-Min struck for Hamburger SV to beat Mainz 1-0.
Perhaps mindful of Tuesday’s Champions League game at Valencia, Bayern coach Heynckes made six changes to the side that beat Frankfurt last weekend, with Mandzukic coming in for Claudio Pizarro, Xherdan Shaqiri replacing Franck Ribery (rib injury) and Thomas Mueller playing for Arjen Robben (torn muscle).
Daniel van Buyten and Rafinha played instead of the injured Jerome Boateng and rested Philipp Lahm at the back, while Anatoliy Tymoshchuk took Javi Martinez’ place in midfield.
Bayern showed no ill effects from the changes when Toni Kroos crossed for Mandzukic to score his league-leading ninth goal of the season with a simple tap-in.
Rafinha should have made it 2-0 after Shaqiri played him through, only for Raphael Schaefer to block the Brazilian’s shot.
Feulner’s equalizer fired up the home side, which was only denied another goal by some last-ditch defending and a great reflex save from Manuel Neuer in the Bayern goal.
Heynckes brought Lahm on to restore order in his back line, but Nuremberg’s challenge effectively petered out when Gebhart was sent off after catching Bastian Schweinsteiger in the mouth with his elbow.
"Nuremberg doesn’t know any differently. They provoked a lot and tried to influence the referee," Schweinsteiger said. "We also fouled of course, but the Nurembergers were specifically targeting the body."
There were early goals in Dortmund, where Mario Goetze set up Robert Lewandowski for a simple finish in the third minute, before Zoltan Stieber equalized with a chip over Roman Weidenfeller in the fifth.
Lewandowski made it 2-1 with Dortmund’s first penalty of the season in the 15th, after Bernd Nehrig was adjudged to have fouled Jakub Blaszczykowski, who was making his comeback from an ankle injury.
Fuerth went close again, before Goetze gave Dortmund some breathing space with a fine individual effort in the 42nd, when the 20-year-old Germany international displayed incredible nerve to go around the goalkeeper and let Nehrig go skidding past, before coolly flicking the ball into the empty net.
"We were punished for each mistake without mercy," said Fuerth coach Mike Bueskens.
Juergen Klopp’s men were comfortable in the second half, with thoughts turning to Wednesday’s Champions League clash against Ajax in Amsterdam.