BERLIN, March 6, 2010 (AFP) - Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger saved Bayern Munich's blushes with a second-half equaliser on Saturday as the Bundesliga leaders were held 1-1 at Cologne.
Bayern were heading for their first defeat in any competition since last November until Schweinsteiger scored his first league goal since September to keep Munich two points clear at the top of the table.
|Schweinsteiger runs with the ball after scoring during the German first division Bundesliga football match 1.FC Cologne vs FC Bayern Munich on March 6, 2010. AFP PHOTO|
"We knew Cologne were going to try and build a defensive wall against us and that is what they did," said a frustrated Schweinsteiger.
"We wanted to take three points, not one."
Cologne's Lukas Podolski, who had earlier hit the post, gave his side the lead against his former club when his direct free-kick on 32 minutes spun off goalkeeper Hans-Jorg Butt's hand and into the top left-hand corner of the net.
It was the 24-year-old's first league goal since September and he celebrated in style: fists pumping and pointing to the Cologne badge on his shirt.
His Germany team-mate Schweinsteiger equalised for Bayern after some clever work by rising star Thomas Mueller in the penalty area on 58 minutes to give the guests a point.
"It wasn't good that we conceeded the goal, it's good for him (Podolski), but it was bad for us - we shouldn't have let it in," fumed Schweinsteiger after being asked about his former team-mate's goal.
But Bayern nearly claimed the three points when second-half substitute Franck Ribery hit the post with less than six minutes remaining.
Leverkusen have the chance to go back top the table if they win at second-from-bottom Nuremberg on Sunday.
On Saturday evening, Dortmund strengthened their European ambitions by beating Borussia Moenchengladbach 3-0 at home to go fifth in the table.
Dortmund's Egyptian striker Mohamed Zidan, who scored against England last week, netted twice.
Earlier, second-placed Schalke 04 kept up the pressure on Bayern with an impressive 4-1 win at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Hanover, who are just above the relegation zone, picked up their first win in 14 games when they managed a 2-1 win at Freiburg.
It was their first win since the tragic death of their captain and Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke, who commited suicide last November after suffering from depression.
Werder Bremen fought back from being 2-0 down to claim a 2-2 draw with Stuttgart, who raced into an early lead.
The opening goal came after midfielder Aliaksandr Hleb won the ball in a duel with Bremen's Torsten Frings before a well-timed pass found Russia striker Pavel Pogrebnyak, who rifled his shot home on 15 minutes.
Stuttgart went 2-0 up when a sweet cross from Timo Gebhart was met by Sami Khedira, who headed home on 42 minutes.
But Portugal striker Hugo Almeida pulled a goal back for Bremen before Frings made up for his earlier mistake with a penalty on 82 minutes to claim the point which leaves Bremen sixth and Stuttgart seventh in the table.
Wolfsburg survived an early scare at home to Bochum before recording a comfortable 4-1 win.
Bochum scored an early goal through Paul Freier before Edin Dzeko scored twice as the Wolves ran out easy winners.
Hertha Berlin remain rooted to the bottom of the table after their 1-0 loss at Hamburg with ex-Germany defender Marcell Jansen hitting the winner.