BERLIN — Inspired by the birth of a foal, Thomas Mueller led Bayern Munich to a 4-0 win at Freiburg that stretched the team’s lead to a huge 20 points with only nine rounds left on Sunday.
"My first foal of the season came into the world yesterday evening, so I practically became a new father," Mueller said. "So I was accordingly pretty motivated."
Two goals in three minutes set Bayern on course for its 20th win in 25 games, leaving it to appear just a matter of time before the Bavarian powerhouse wraps up its record-extending sixth consecutive title.
Jupp Heynckes’ side showed that last weekend’s draw at home to Hertha Berlin was only a temporary scare after a 15-game winning streak across all competitions.
Mueller was at the heart of Bayern’s first goal after an opening 24 minutes in which either side could have scored. The Bayern forward’s cross came back off Freiburg defender Caglar Soyuncu’s heel. Mueller reacted quickly to send the ball back, where it ricocheted off Soyuncu and goalkeeper Alexander Schwolow to go in.
Corentin Tolisso then hammered a brilliant shot inside the top right corner from around 30 metres (yards).
Sandro Wagner, playing in place of the rested Robert Lewandowski, killed any notion of a contest early in the second half after being set up by Mueller.
Mueller crowned his man-of-the-match performance with the fourth goal – a half-volley to Joshua Kimmich’s corner at the near post – with just over 20 minutes remaining.
COLOGNE CHANCES DWINDLING
Cologne’s slim hopes of survival took a hit as Stuttgart came from behind to win 3-2 on an afternoon to forget for goalkeeper Timo Horn.
Veteran striker Claudio Pizarro fired Cologne into an early lead and his side went on to dominate the first half.
Yuya Osako, who had sent Pizarro through, thought he’d scored himself toward the end of the half after Vincent Koziello managed to get the ball from goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler. But the video referee concluded the Hannover ‘keeper had the ball under control and the goal was disallowed.
It went from bad to worse for Cologne just before the break. Mario Gomez equalized against the run of play, and then scored again when Horn let his harmless shot slip through his arms. Stuttgart forward Daniel Ginczek consoled the Cologne ‘keeper.
"I’m not making any excuses. It’s a ball that a goalkeeper should get. It’s brutal, especially after such a good first half," Horn said.
Andreas Beck made it 3-1 early in the second half, shooting inside the far post from a difficult angle, when again Horn looked far from impressive.
Cologne struggled to create chances afterward as Stuttgart sat back and defended, though Milos Jojic got the home fans going again when he scored late with a fine free kick.
Stuttgart held on, however, to climb to ninth with its fourth successive win under new coach Tayfun Korkut, who is unbeaten in five.
Cologne remains bottom with just four wins, eight points from safety.