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4-min read

Bayern Munich clinch Bundesliga title in record time

Bayern defeated Hertha Berlin 3-1 to become the earliest Bundesliga champion in 51 years of the league on Tuesday.

Associated Press

Updated:March 26, 2014, 2:42 AM IST
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Bayern Munich clinch Bundesliga title in record time
Bayern defeated Hertha Berlin 3-1 to become the earliest Bundesliga champion in 51 years of the league on Tuesday.

Berlin: Bayern Munich defeated Hertha Berlin 3-1 to become the earliest Bundesliga champion in 51 years of the league on Tuesday, when the defending champion claimed their 24th German title.

Toni Kroos scored in the sixth minute and Mario Goetze added a rare header in the 14th.

Adrian Ramos pulled one back from the penalty spot in the 66th, but Bayern substitute Franck Ribery settled the issue in the 79th.

The result ensures Pep Guardiola's side wraps up the title with seven games to spare in the Spaniard's first season as coach, beating the mark set in last year's record-breaking campaign by one game.

"Praise has to go to the coach and the team. Pep Guardiola suits this team, he's not only an expert, he's also a fantastic guy," Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer said.

It was Bayern's 19th consecutive win, their 10th consecutive victory away from home, and they stretched their unbeaten run to 52 games. All are Bundesliga records.

Second-place Borussia Dortmund failed to overcome Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann and had to settle for a 0-0 draw in the Ruhr derby despite dominating. Dortmund remains one point ahead of Schalke and slips 25 behind Bayern, the first side to win the Bundesliga in March.

Bayern finished 25 points ahead of Dortmund last season and are even more dominant this campaign. Of 27 games so far this season, Bayern have won 25 and drawn the other two. They have also scored more goals (79) and conceded fewer (19) than any other side by a large margin.

Kroos opened the scoring with a half-volley through Hertha goalkeeper Thomas Kraft's legs after Christoph Janker deflected Thomas Mueller's cross into the unmarked midfielder's path.

Poor defending from the home side allowed Goetze to score with a header from Bastian Schweinsteiger's cross.

Mueller hit the crossbar in the 38th, and went very close again before the break, when his lob over former team-mate Kraft went just wide of the post.

The intensity dropped in the second half until Guardiola introduced Ribery and Mario Mandzukic together in the 54th.

Mandzukic tested Kraft from a tight angle shortly afterward, before an apparent push from Rafinha on Ramos allowed the Colombian striker pull one back from the penalty spot.

Ribery made sure of the result with a fine finish after a determined run past a host of defenders by Goetze.

Celebrations were reserved by usual standards, perhaps an indicator of how predictable the title race had become.

Players donned T-shirts with the number 24 referring to Bayern's championships on their backs, while Guardiola remained on the bench speaking on his mobile phone. There were none of the traditional "beer showers" and no trophy was presented.

"After the last successful season we were very focused in our work and we're champions even earlier than last year. It's good and we're happy," Sammer said.

Bayern's previous seven titles also came at matches away from home.

"Congratulations to Bayern, especially to coach Pep Guardiola," Germany coach Joachim Loew said. "He developed the team even further and clearly left his mark in terms of dominance and possession."

Many wondered how Guardiola could match the success enjoyed under predecessor Jupp Heynckes, who led Bayern to their first treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup victories last year.

Guardiola led Barcelona to 14 titles in four seasons in charge of the club where he played most of his career as a stylish defensive midfielder. But there was no guarantee he could replicate that success in Germany, a country he had only experienced as a visitor before.

Guardiola spoke German on his introduction to the media last June, two days before beginning work as Bayern coach.

Since then he has made the best ever start for a coach in the Bundesliga, where he is yet to taste defeat, while he has led Bayern to three titles including the latest. Bayern had already won the Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup under his tenure.

"You always hope it goes well but I never expected it to go so well. The first four or five months were difficult but the individual talent saw us through," Guardiola said. "We'll celebrate this today and tomorrow."

With domestic domination appearing secure for years to come, Bayern will measure their success on a continental scale. The club's achievement of five European Cup or Champions League titles is eclipsed only by Real Madrid and AC Milan, with nine and seven, respectively.

Bayern aim to become the first side to defend the title since it was changed to the new format in 1992. It was handed a favorable draw for the quarter-finals in a Manchester United side still finding their feet since Alex Ferguson retired as coach.

The only cloud on the horizon has been Uli Hoeness' conviction for tax evasion. The former Bayern president, who is widely credited with building up this dominant team, is soon expected to begin his 3½-year prison term.

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