Klinsmann Strikes Twice to Keep Bayern Top

BONN, Germany -- German captain Juergen Klinsmann silenced his critics with two goals as Bayern Munich started the second half of the German league season with a 3-0 home victory over St. Paulito to stay on top of the table.


Klinsmann, who was often criticized in the first half of the season for his lack of sharpness in front of goal, put his name on the score sheet in the 28th and 75th minutes as the Bavarians restored their two-point advantage over reigning champions Borussia Dortmund.


Dortmund also returned from the two-month winter break in style with a 3-1 defeat of third-placed Bayer Leverkusen on Friday.


But VfB Stuttgart, which played some of the most entertaining soccer in the first half of the season, went down 1-0 at Schalke on Saturday and is now eight points behind Bayern in fourth place.


Klinsmann, who scored just five goals before the winter break, threatened to leave Bayern at the end of the first half of the season in December because of Bayern's defensive tactics and the disappointing way he had been treated.


One of the striker's lowest moments came just before the break when he was substituted in a top-of-the-table clash at Stuttgart, where he made his name in Germany.


But Klinsmann, Germany's 1990 and 1994 World Cup marksman, returned to his best form Saturday. His first goal, coming after a clever move with fellow international Thomas Strunz and striker Alexander Zickler, was superb.


German international defender Thomas Helmer scored the other goal for Bayern in the 53rd minute.


Bayern, 13 times Bundesliga champions, was in far from brilliant form on a cold, wet day in Munich's Olympic stadium but has been unbeaten since Sept. 28, 1996.


"It was important that we won in view of Dortmund's result and have kept our lead," their Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni said. "I am very happy with the team. They showed spirit."


The only black point for Bayern was the sight of veteran libero and captain Lothar Matthaeus leaving the field in the 33rd minute with a thigh injury. Matthaeus may have to miss Bayern's German Cup quarterfinal against Karlsruhe on Wednesday.


Schalke's Belgian international Marc Wilmots spoiled Stuttgart's return to action. The striker headed in a cross from former Bayern player Olaf Thon in the 39th minute for the only goal of the game in Gelsenkirchen.


(For other results, see Scorecard.)