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Bundesliga Wrap: Bayern’s lead even stronger as chasing teams stumble

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Bayern Munich must’ve been laughing from Friday through Saturday as their 16-point lead atop the Bundesliga held firm. The Nos. 2, 3 and 4 teams in the table all struggled, while No. 5 closed ground. Let’s take a look around Germany’s top flight.

Friday’s result

Schalke 0-0 Mainz
The match was even, aside from the fouls. It was the Kevin-Prince Boateng show on both ends, as he led the match in shots (4) and fouls committed (4). Not surprising to hear he picked up a yellow card as well. Schalke’s frustrations in not being able to topple Mainz backline boiled over, with 19 fouls on the day, and they were unable to jump the opportunity afforded them by Dortmund’s struggles at Hamburg.

Saturday’s results

SC Freiburg 2-4 FC Augsburg
Four different Augsburg players scored as the visitors kept Freiburg in severe relegation danger with a two-goal triumph. The club’s traded goals early before Admir Mehmedi briefly gave the hosts the lead in the 73rd minute. That awoke the beast, and Paul Verheagh, Halil Altintop and Andre Hahn scored thrice in 12 minutes to give Augsburg its come-from-behind victory, moving the team into a three-way tie for seventh and knocking on the door of the Top Five.

Hamburg 3-0 Borussia Dortmund
There was absolutely nothing doing for Dortmund today, as a hungry-looking Hamburg club struck before the break on Petr Jiracek’s goal before grabbing two more goals in the second half. Pierre-Michel Lasogga scored in the 58th minute before Hakan Calhanoglu scored a wondrous free kick that may have been longer than 40 yards out from goal. It was a rare blast and I’d encourage anyone to devour the footage if you can locate it.

VfB Stuttgart 1-2 Hertha Berlin
Stuttgart is still living with drop danger after a late Sandro Wagner goal doomed them at home. Levan Kobiashvili gave the visitors the lead in the 5th minute but Arthur Boka evened the score for Stuttgart. Wagner scored in the 87th and completed his day with a double yellow in the 90th minute, but it was too little, too late to benefit the home team. American defender John Anthony Brooks played the final five minutes for Hertha.

Borussia Monchengladbach 2-2 Hoffenheim
Hoffenheim is thrilled to split the spoils after falling down two goals in the match’s first 18 minutes, as Patrick Hermann struck in the fourth before Tony Jantschke doubled the host’s advantage. But Roberto Firmino, Sejad Salihovic and Kevin Volland continued to press and press and press… before the former two broke through with goals in the 56th and 82nd minutes, respectively.

American back Fabian Johnson played the right side again in what should keep Jurgen Klinsmann’s eyebrows raised in a good way (not permanently. They could freeze that way). The result leaves Monchengladbach in sixth.

Nurnberg 2-1 Eintracht
Despite a red card in the 32nd minute and an Eintracht goal from Domi Kumbela in the 24th, Nurnberg won a huge six-pointer, keeping their opponents in the No. 18 spot in the table. Eintracht’s  goal differential sunk to minus-25 as Nurnberg popped in goals in the 46th minute (Hiroshi Kiyotake) and 47th (Tomas Pekhart). Kumbela took six shots as Eintracht won the shots battle 20-7, but just seven of those went on goal.

VfL Wolfsburg 3-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Leverkusen kept the running total of points for the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 teams in the Bundesliga at one with an absolute collapse on the road. Sidney Sam equalized for the visitors in the 45th minute but Luis Gustavo and Ricardo Rodriguez provided two second-half goals for Wolfsburg, who jumped to within two points of No. 4 Schalke.

MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 1-2 Real Salt Lake

SANDY UT - MARCH 14: Olmes Garcia #13 of Real Salt Lake celebrates his goal during their game against the Philadelphia Union at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.

[ MORE: FC Dallas clinches playoff berth ]

Three moments that mattered

16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.

33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.

43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.

Man of the match: Luke Mulholland

Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)

Wenger lauds team spirit following Arsenal’s big win

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Arsenal put on a superb performance against Manchester United today, flying out to a three-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes of the match.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United ]

United was stunned by the fast-paced, free-flowing Arsenal attack, unable to recover from the Gunners’ early dominance.

All of this came on the heels of a disappointing loss to Olympiacos in the Champions League, after which many questioned manager Arsene Wenger and his side.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s win vs. Manchester United ]

Following the big 3-0 win at the Emirates, Wenger praised his team’s spirit, saying there were outstanding performances throughout the side.

You go from Petr Cech up to Theo Walcott, and we had only outstanding performances. Sometimes we have that magic side in our game.

[Against Olympiacos] maybe we lacked a little bit of urgency and discipline, and that’s why we lost the game. But let’s not forget, last Saturday we won 5-2 at Leicester. Today we beat Man United 3-0.

[The players] have shown that we have an outstanding spirit in the squad. To respond the way we did after what happened to us, you need to have an exceptional spirit.

The Gunners’ performance today immediately silenced all the critics, as Wenger’s side put out on a display that many have been waiting for all season. The combination play of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott was brilliant, as Santi Cazorla continued to impress in the center of the midfield.

Wenger’s teams have not always been known to show strong heart and resiliency, but that’s exactly what they showed today against a Manchester United side that was in great form. Now sitting second on the table, Arsenal continues to climb up the Premier League.