Birthday boy Musiala helps Bayern reclaim league lead
Birthday boy Jamal Musiala scored his 11th of the season as Bayern Munich returned to the Bundesliga summit with a dominant 3-0 home win over Union Berlin on Sunday.
Bayern and Borussia Dortmund now lead the Bundesliga by three points from Union.
First-half goals from Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Kingsley Coman and Musiala, on his 20th birthday, put Bayern into a comfortable position against the overachieving Berliners.
A pre-match blizzard failed to cool Bayern's fluency, with the home side forcing Union into several last-ditch saves in the opening moments.
Bayern striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting got the home side on the scoreboard after 31 minutes, heading in a lofted pass from Kingsley Coman.
Union almost hit back five minutes later when Tunisia international Aissa Laidouni blasted just past the upright after a nice pass from Sheraldo Becker.
Bayern doubled up immediately afterwards, Thomas Mueller chipping the Union defence with his back to goal to send Coman one-on-one with Union goalie Frederik Ronnow.
The France forward rounded Ronnow and slid the ball into the net.
Mueller was the provider again in first-half injury time, setting up Musiala to give Bayern a 3-0 halftime lead.
Bayern took the sting out of the match after halftime in pursuit of just their third league win from seven matches in 2023, giving away few chances to the outclassed visitors.
Senegal forward Sadio Mane came off the bench in the 65th minute for Coman, his first appearance since sustaining a leg injury which saw him miss the Qatar World Cup.
Mane put Mueller through on goal just five minutes later, but goalkeeper Ronnow headed the veteran forward's shot over the bar.
The victory means Bayern overtake Borussia Dortmund who went three points clear with a 1-0 win at Hoffenheim on Saturday. The Bavarians now sit ahead of the Westfalians on goal difference.
Union finish the round in third, one point ahead of fourth-placed RB Leipzig.
- Azmoun snatches draw -
A second-half goal from Iran striker Sardar Azmoun helped Bayer Leverkusen grab a 1-1 draw at Freiburg on Sunday.
A goal from free-kick specialist Vincenzo Grifo had put Freiburg into a first-half lead and on course for a valuable three points in their top-four bid, but Azmoun's first goal in Leverkusen colours meant the honours were shared.
Grifo opened the scoring with his 12th league goal of the season, curling an inch-perfect free kick over the wall and onto the inside of the crossbar.
The ball bounced down but hit the back of Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky and went in.
The visitors had two chances to equalise just before the break through Jeremie Frimpong and Moussa Diaby, but Freiburg held firm.
Bayer manager Xabi Alonso brought on midfielder Florian Wirtz at half-time and the change had the desired impact, with the visitors benefiting from the teenager's creativity and vision.
With 67 minutes gone, Wirtz moved the ball to Mitchell Bakker, who chipped a superb looping cross to Azmoun. The Iranian cut the ball across the face of goal and into the net.
Grifo credited the "incredible quality" of the guests and said "you can't always win, so we are reasonably happy with the point."
His coach Christian Streich echoed the sentiments, saying "handy and lively Leverkusen were really good"
"I'm happy with the draw. It's a good point for us."
Alonso told broadcaster DAZN he was "satisfied with the performance" but admitted "we wanted a little more".