Union Berlin’s punishing schedule finally took its toll on Sunday with a 5-0 defeat after a disastrous second half at Bayer Leverkusen to leave Bayern Munich top of the Bundesliga.
Moussa Diaby scored twice and Adam Hlozek and Mitchel Bakker aalso found the net after former Union midfielder Robert Andrich had opened the scoring.
It was Union’s heaviest defeat of the season having previouslyconceded only nine goals in 12 games.
Union’s third defeat left Bayern two points clear with two rounds remaining before the league’s extended winter break to accommodate the World Cup in Qatar.
Both teams cancelled each other out in a lacklustre first half with few highlights. Then Andrich broke the deadlock right after the break with a low shot after a corner.
The next goal was a gift from goalkeeper Lennart Grill – who is on loan from Leverkusen – when he failed to control a backpass and the ball fell to Diaby, who finished off a post.
The French forward grabbed his second two minutes later, rounding off a counterattack started by Bakker as Union had pushed for a response.
Nadim Amiri crossed for Hlozek to score his first Bundesliga goal with his heel in the 68th, then Hlozek set up Bakker for the fifth in the 76th.
The win was only Leverkusen’s third of the season in the league and lifted them out of the relegation zone.
Paris Saint-Germain needed a late goal from defender Danilo Pereira to scrape a 2-1 win at Lorient and restore a five-point lead at the top of Ligue 1.
Pereira headed home Neymar’s corner in the 81st minute as unbeaten PSG maintained their comfortable gap over second-place Lens.
Lionel Messi was rested because of some inflammation in his achilles tendon. The Argentina star, who will look to win the World Cup for the first time this winter, is expected to resume training next week.
Messi was replaced in attack by 20-year-old Hugo Ekitiké, who set up Neymar’s opening goal after nine minutes. Neymar’s 11th league goal moved him level with teammate Kylian Mbappé at the top of the scoring charts.
Fourth-place Lorient equalized in the 53rd through Terem Moffi’s ninth goal of the campaign. Enzo Le Fée sent the Nigeria striker running clear and Moffi fired past goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Moffi hit the crossbar shortly after as Lorient got on top, but then failed to pick up Pereira from Neymar’s corner.
In La Liga, Atlético Madrid’s fans expressed their disapproval after a 1-1 home draw against 10-man Espanyol, a result that extended their winless streak to four matches in all competitions.
João Félix came off the bench to salvage the draw with a 78th-minute equalizer after the visitors had opened the scoring through Sergi Darder in the 62nd. Espanyol played a man down from the 28th after defender Leandro Cabrera was shown a straight red card for a foul on Álvaro Morata.
Atlético pressed until the end but could not find a winner, prompting jeers after the final whistle.
“The reaction from the fans is understandable, no one is happy,” Atlético goalkeeper Jan Oblak said. “Until we start doing well on the field again, things won’t get better.”
This story will be updated