De Ligt sends Bayern back on top ahead of PSG tie
Defender Matthijs de Ligt produced a crucial goal-line clearance before scoring himself as Bayern Munich reclaimed the Bundesliga lead from Borussia Dortmund with a 2-1 win at Stuttgart on Saturday.
De Ligt's goal came late in the first half just after he prevented Stuttgart from going ahead, with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting grabbing a second for Bayern midway through the second half.
Stuttgart pulled one back late on through Juan Jose Perea, but Bayern held on to go back above Dortmund on goal difference ahead of Wednesday's Champions League last-16 second leg against Paris Saint-Germain in Munich.
Bayern picked up where they left off in last week's 3-0 win over Union Berlin, with Leon Goretzka forcing goalkeeper Fabian Bredlow into two stunning reflex saves in quick succession.
Not content to allow Bayern to turn the screws, Stuttgart kept looking dangerous on the counter through the speed of striker Silas.
Silas' near-post shot forced a save from Yann Sommer after 36 minutes and the home side almost took the lead from the ensuing corner, with De Ligt desperately clearing a deflected ball off the line.
The Dutch centre-back put Bayern in front just a minute later, blasting a low shot under Bredlow from outside the box.
Fresh from signing a one-year extension in Munich on Friday, former PSG striker Choupo-Moting doubled Bayern's lead by hammering a shot past Bredlow when put through on goal by Thomas Mueller.
With just two minutes remaining, the home side gave their fans hope, Tiago Tomas curling in a superb cross to find Perea, who headed past Sommer.
French winger Tanguy Coulibaly had a chance to equalise in the second minute of injury time when he jumped high to head a cross from Hiroki Ito, but his effort went just wide.
Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann toasted a "deserved win from the better team" but said his side needed to "play a bit more seriously at the end."
Stuttgart, who have lost five of their past six games, are one of four teams holding up the bottom of the table equal on 19 points.
Stuttgart coach Bruno Labbadia praised his "courageous and confident" side but lamented conceding the "dumb" opening goal.
"Before that, we'd kept them at bay."
- Union held at home -
Earlier on Saturday, a flat Union Berlin missed a chance to keep in touch with Bayern and Dortmund, playing out a scoreless draw at home against Cologne.
Union Fischer singled out goalkeeper Frederik Ronnow for particular praise, telling Sky: "Cologne were a bit more dangerous... we can thank our goalkeeper for keeping us in the game."
The result, Union's third 0-0 draw in their past five matches, sees the Berliners fall five points behind Bayern, sitting in third place.
Freiburg missed a chance to overtake RB Leipzig into the Champions League places, drawing 0-0 away to Borussia Moenchengladbach.
France striker Marcus Thuram won Gladbach a second-half penalty but the spot kick was overturned by VAR, which found insufficient contact with the forward's foot.
Gladbach were reduced to 10 men with three minutes remaining when Algerian wing-back Ramy Bensebaini picked up a second yellow for kicking the ball away in frustration.
At the other end of the table, Schalke boosted their hopes of avoiding a direct return to the second division, winning 2-0 away at fellow strugglers Bochum.
The win, set up by a first-half goalkeeping howler from Bochum's Manuel Riemann and a clever second-half strike from Marius Buelter, was Schalke's first away victory in the top flight since November 2019.
Schalke, who had anchored the Bundesliga table since October, are now unbeaten in their last six games ahead of next week's clash with derby rivals Dortmund.
Mainz lifted themselves to seventh with a hard-fought 1-0 home win over Hoffenheim, thanks to a first-half strike from Leandro Barreiro.
The result was the visitors' seventh loss in eight matches in 2023, leaving Hoffenheim in grave relegation danger.
Augsburg lifted themselves eight points clear of the relegation spots with a 2-1 home win over Werder Bremen.