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Bernat nets as Bayern relegate Darmstadt

Berlin (AFP) – Spain defender Juan Bernat netted the only goal of the game as champions Bayern Munich beat Darmstadt 1-0 on Saturday, a result that confirmed their opponents’ relegation.

Bayern, Bundesliga champions for the fifth year in a row, were made to work for victory at the Allianz Arena and Torsten Frings’ Darmstadt might have snatched a point, but Hamit Altintop’s late penalty was saved.

Darmstadt had put their relegation on hold by recording three straight wins and they refused to lie down in Bavaria.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern broke the deadlock when Franck Ribery’s mazy run on the left flank played Bernat into the area.

The left-back beat two defenders, then coolly chipped Darmstadt goalkeeper Michael Esser for the 18th-minute goal that proved to be the winner.

However, the Spaniard conceded a penalty with five minutes left by fouling Darmstadt substitute Sven Schipplock.

Altintop, playing against his former club, had his spot-kick saved by Tom Starke in the Bayern goal.

Bayern are 13 points ahead of second-placed RB Leipzig, who are at Hertha Berlin later.

Darmstadt are now an insurmountable nine points from safety with just two games left.

Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund took a big step towards a direct Champions League place next season by climbing into third with a 2-1 win at home to Hoffenheim, who slip to fourth.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s second-half header which proved the winner saw him join Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski on 28 goals in the race to be the Bundesliga’s top scorer. 

Marco Reus gave Dortmund a controversial lead after just four minutes, replays showing he was a metre offside when Gonzalo Castro’s final pass put him behind the defence to tuck away his shot.

Hoffenheim were then left fuming when Germany winger Reus controlled the ball with his arm — which the referee missed — before firing in a cross which made contact with defender Pavel Kaderabek’s hand.

Referee Felix Brych, an international official, pointed to the spot, but justice was seen to be done when Aubameyang fired wide on 14 minutes.

The Gabon hot-shot made amends when he headed home after Raphael Guerreiro hit the post on 82 minutes, but Hoffenheim pulled a goal back when ex-Leicester City striker Andrej Kramaric slotted in a late penalty.

Dortmund’s World Cup winner Matthias Ginter wrestled Sandro Wagner to the floor after a cross and Kramaric banged home his 13th league goal of the season.

Hoffenheim are now two points behind Dortmund with two games remaining.

Ingolstadt, 17th in the table, still have a chance of staying up after their 1-1 draw with Bayer Leverkusen.

Sonny Kittel’s second-half goal for the hosts was cancelled out by Leverkusen’s 17-year-old midfielder Kai Havertz, leaving Ingolstadt three points from safety.

Winger Andre Hahn scored a 94th-minute equaliser in mid-table Borussia Moenchengladbach’s 1-1 draw with Augsburg, whose Iceland striker Alfred Finnbogason netted their goal.

Wolfsburg, the 2009 German champions, are now three points clear of the bottom three after their 2-0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt thanks to goals by Daniel Didavi and Germany striker Mario Gomez.

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