Bayern beats Schalke 2-0 in Bundesliga
BERLIN (AP) -- Franck Ribery scored twice for Bayern Munich to beat Schalke 2-0 in the Bundesliga on Sunday and stem talk of a crisis engulfing the club.
Ribery terrorized the Schalke defense throughout and put the home ahead in the 36th minute when he chipped the goalkeeper before stroking the ball into the empty net.
The French winger struck again after the interval, combining with Thomas Mueller on the left before firing a deflected shot beyond the helpless Timo Hildebrand in the 55th.
Bayern started the day in third after a 0-0 draw at bottom side Freiburg last weekend, and Schalke would have overtaken the Bavarians with a win.
Before kickoff honorary Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer declared it "the most important game of the whole season.''
The win moved Bayern within a point of Borussia Dortmund before the leader's scheduled game at home to Hannover later Sunday.
"It's not easy for us at this time, but it was vital to show a reaction. Schalke are a good team and these three points are important,'' Ribery said.
Hildebrand was called into early action on his first league start for Schalke, denying Mueller and then Arjen Robben from the rebound in the sixth.
Mueller almost scored a minute later, but was unable to direct the ball on target after Hildebrand parried another shot from Robben, and Bayern continued to spurn chances with Mueller failing to spot the better positioned Mario Gomez before shooting wide in the 23rd.
The breakthrough came as Schalke began to threaten. Luiz Gustavo shouldered Marco Hoeger off the ball before launching a long ball forward for Ribery.
The Frenchman scooped the ball over the approaching Hildebrand with his first touch and guided it to the unguarded net with his next.
Ribery's next effort was deflected wide shortly afterward, and Bayern almost scored from the resulting corner. Hildebrand denied Mueller with a reflex save, and Holger Badstuber was unable to put the ball over.
Christian Fuchs came closest for Schalke with a powerful drive, only to be denied by former Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer's fingertips.
Badstuber hit the crossbar with a header after the interval, before Joel Matip fired wide from the counterattack with only Neuer to beat.
Ribery effectively decided the game with his second, though there was still time for substitute Ivica Olic to have a goal disallowed for offside in the 73rd, when Mueller's goalward header may have been going in anyway.
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