Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski celebrates during a German Bundesliga match between FC Bayern Munich and Hanover 96 in Munich, Germany, on May 4, 2019. Bayern Munich won 3-1. (Xinhua/Bernd Feil)
BERLIN, May 4 (Xinhua) -- Bayern Munich eased 3-1 past bottom side Hannover at home to keep runners-up Dortmund at distance following the 32nd round in Bundesliga on Saturday.
The German record champions defended their lead with goals from Robert Lewandowski, Leon Goretzka and Franck Ribery .
Hannover took a bright start on the road after conceding the first chance of the game through Genki Haraguchi in the opening period.
Bayern nevertheless didn't need long to assume full control as Hannover goalkeeper Michael Esser had to defuse the efforts from Leon Goretzka, Kingsley Coman and Thomas Muller.
Hence, it was Bayern's next chance, which opened the scoring in the 27th minute when Robert Lewandowski headed home Joshua Kimmich's cross to the far post from five meters.
The hosts gained momentum as Esser had to deny denied Mueller and Jerome Boateng at the half hour mark before Goretzka eventually doubled the lead with a well-placed shot from 20 meters in the 40th minute.
Even though the "Bavarians" dominated the one-sided affair, the visitors were able to pull one back out of the blue as substitute Jonathas converted a hand ball penalty seven minutes into the second half.
Jonathas remained in the thick of things as he received his marching orders nine minutes after his fielding for repeated foul play in the 55th minute.
Bayern continued on the front foot but Nuremberg's Esser stayed a factor and saved the efforts from Serge Gnabry and David Alaba.
The goalkeeper was hapless in the closing period when Franck Ribery had all time and space inside the box to unleash a shot into the far post corner to put the 3-1 victory beyond doubt in the 84th minute.
With the result, leaders Bayern Munich opened up a four-point gap to runners-up Dortmund who were held a 2-2 draw by Werder Bremen on Saturday. Hannover still stay in the Bundesliga bottom with two rounds to spare and a six point deficit to the relegation play off spot.
"In the first 20 minutes Hannover defended very well. We controlled possession but failed to produce clear-cut chances. After the opener, we were able to create good chances but we should have established a higher lead within the first 45 minutes," Bayern head coach Niko Kovac said.
Elsewhere, Borussia Monchengladbach fought back twice to share the spoils with Hoffenheim following a two-all draw.
Wolfsburg eye for a berth in Europe after beating relegation threatened Nuremberg 2-0 and Hertha Berlin increased Stuttgart's relegation worries with a 3-1 win.