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June 23, 2017

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Bayern defeat Stuttgart to stretch Bundesliga lead

BERLIN -- Mario Mandzukic scored a goal and set up another Sunday as Bayern Munich beat Stuttgart 2-0 to extend its lead in the Bundesliga.

The Croatia striker took advantage of a mistake from Christian Molinaro to put Bayern ahead in the 50th minute, intercepting the defender's back pass before rounding the goalkeeper.

"It's a shame that that they went ahead through my mistake," Molinaro said. "After that we didn't really get a chance. I'm so sorry for the team."

The visitors put the game beyond doubt in the 72nd when Mandzukic crossed for Thomas Mueller to finish off a counterattack. Mueller earlier had a goal ruled out for offside.

"Sometimes we have to get used to the fact that you can't always lead 3-0 at the break," Mueller said. "A football game lasts longer, you have to be patient."

It got worse for Stuttgart with 10 minutes to go when Martin Harnik earned his second yellow card for a foul on Franck Ribery.

Harnik came closest to scoring for the home side in the 35th, when his header struck the post and Manuel Neuer gratefully gathered the rebound.

"We were very concentrated from the beginning," Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes said. "Only in the first half was there something missing — a bit of spirit, determination to get forward, the last pass, a cross or even a shot on goal. ... We were better in the second half."

Bayern's 15th win from 19 games leaves it 11 points clear of Bayer Leverkusen, which was held to a 0-0 draw at Freiburg on Saturday. Defending champion Borussia Dortmund is third, a point further back.

Earlier, Hamburger SV defeated Werder Bremen 3-2 in the Bundesliga's 98th northern derby to end a three-game losing streak in games against its old rival.

"I know how important this win is for the region," said Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink after the 178th meeting between the sides.

Bremen defender Assani Lukimya opened the scoring with a backward header in the ninth minute — his first Bundesliga goal — but Son Heung-min equalized with a superb individual effort in the 23rd, going past Theodor Gebre Selassie on the left before unleashing a fierce shot to the far corner.

"We've learned how to deal with setbacks," Fink said. "The first goal caught us off guard but we fought our way back into the game."

Hamburg emerged fired up after the break, with Dennis Aogo scoring from close range, though there was a hint of handball as he controlled Son's ball forward.

Aogo then crossed for Artjoms Rudnevs to make it 3-1 in the 52nd, two minutes before Greek defender Sokratis pulled one back, when Hamburg keeper Rene Adler let the ball slip under him.

Clemens Fritz received his second yellow card with 10 minutes remaining and Bremen striker Marco Arnautovic followed his captain off in injury time.

"It was a real derby," said Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf, whose side was beaten 5-0 by Borussia Dortmund the previous weekend. "Two teams played with something to prove."

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