Lewandowski, Vidal put Bayern on the brink of title

The result means Pep Guardiola's men can clinch the title as early as next weekend if second-placed Borussia Dortmund fails to beat Hamburg and Stuttgart in its next two matches, coupled with a Bayern triumph at Hertha Berlin on April 23.

Robert Lewandowski - cropped

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski scores against FC Schalke.

A Robert Lewandowski brace and Arturo Vidal's goal helped Bayern Munich close to within touching distance of a fourth successive Bundesliga crown as it downed Schalke 3-0 at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

The result means Pep Guardiola's men can clinch the title as early as next weekend if second-placed Borussia Dortmund fails to beat Hamburg and Stuttgart in its next two matches, coupled with a Bayern triumph at Hertha Berlin on April 23.

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The deserved victory rounded off a fine week for the Bavarian giant in which it also progressed to the last four of the Champions League, but it was made to work for the three points by a stubborn Schalke side who kept it at bay for almost an hour. The visitor defended stoutly as it sought to keep a first clean sheet in seven games and maintain its hopes of securing a Champions League place.

But it was undone on 54 minutes when Robert Lewandowski rifled home his 26th league goal of the season from close range. The Pole then made it 2-0 with a fine header just after the hour-mark, before Vidal added the third on 73 minutes, ensuring Bayern would maintain an unbeaten league run at home to Schalke that stretches back to 2009.

For Andre Breitenreiter's men, meanwhile, the defeat means they have now won only three of their last 12 games in all competitions and remain seventh in the table.

With the visitor happy to get numbers behind the ball and sit deep, Bayern struggled to find a way through during a low-key first half. Despite some promising approach work from Kingsley Coman and Douglas Costa down either flank, it took the host until the 18th minute to create its first shooting opportunity, when Juan Bernat dragged his effort wide of the far post from 15 yards out.

On its rare attacking forays, Leroy Sane looked lively for Schalke, but the host's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer still remained a virtual spectator for the entire opening 45 minutes. Opposite number Ralf Fahrmann was similarly under-worked, although he was grateful to Joel Matip just before the break as the Cameroon international foiled Mario Gotze's attempt to turn and shoot from close range.

Bayern upped the pace at the start of the second half, with Coman and Philipp Lahm both drawing saves from Fahrmann. On 52 minutes, Vidal was narrowly off-target after a neat turn on the edge of the box and seconds later it was Costa's turn to be denied by Fahrmann. 

Finally the breakthrough arrived, however, as Vidal found Lewandowski and he pivoted in the box before finding the bottom corner of the net. Ten minutes later, the Bundesliga's leading scorer grabbed his and Bayern's second, rising highest to head home a superb Rafinha cross from the right.

Sane then came close to providing an immediate response for Schalke, but his header from a Caicara cross was straight at Neuer and the game was effectively ended as a contest on 73 minutes when substitute Franck Ribery teed up Vidal for the Chilean to bag his second goal in four days.

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