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May 11, 2013

Bayern celebrates Bundesliga title

Bayern Munich kicked off its Bundesliga title celebrations with a 3-0 win over Augsburg on Saturday, when the club finally received the trophy for its 23rd German Championship.

Goals from Thomas Mueller, Xherdan Shaqiri and Luiz Gustavo ensured Bayern -- which wrapped up the title with a record six games to spare -- scored for the 36th consecutive Bundesliga game, equaling its own record set between May 1973 and May 1974.

Tens of thousands of Bayern fans lined the city streets on Saturday to celebrate.

Jupp Heynckes has been widely credited with masterminding Bayern's record-setting season -- no side has been as dominant in 50 years of the Bundesliga - and his players took turns to douse the 68-year-old coach with beer.

"Normally you need nimble legs and I don't have them anymore," Heynckes said. "If you try (to escape) and you're not well trained you can pull a hamstring and I didn't want that. So I put up with the beer showers."

Players, coaches and training staff then made their way through the city center to the famed Marienplatz, where the trophy was presented to fans from the town hall balcony, according to the traditional title celebrations.

"It's clear to me from your enthusiasm that you're famished, that it feels like it's 10 years since you were here," Heynckes told supporters. "We will do everything we can to achieve what we're all dreaming of."

Bayern faces Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final at Wembley on May 25, and Stuttgart in the German Cup final in Berlin a week later.

It will be Heynckes' last game in charge, with former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola taking over for next season.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said the players would not go too wild with the celebrations considering the titles still to be won.

"I'm giving it full gas (but) the team will celebrate with the handbrake on," Rummenigge said.

For now, the club is happy to reclaim the trophy it last won in 2011.

"We had a drought for two years," Bayern captain Philipp Lahm said. "But now we're back where we belong -- right at the top of the Bundesliga."

Augsburg's loss left the side in the relegation playoff place with one round remaining, level on points with Fortuna Duesseldorf, which lost 2-1 at home to Nuremberg.

Those results meant Werder Bremen secured a spot in the top flight for next season despite being held 1-1 by sixth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt. Bremen is now four points clear of danger.

Second-from bottom Hoffenheim only has a slim hope of avoiding the drop after losing 4-1 at home to Hamburger SV, which is two points behind Frankfurt and can still qualify for Europe.

Schalke missed the chance to secure the last Champions League spot after losing 2-1 to Stuttgart, with Vedad Ibisevic scoring twice for the visitors.

Freiburg took full advantage, coming from behind to beat already-relegated Greuther Furth 2-1. Christian Streich's side is all but sure of Europa League football next season.

The loss meant Furth became the first side to finish a Bundesliga season without a single home win.

Freiburg is just one point behind Schalke ahead of the sides' showdown in Freiburg next weekend.

Two late goals from Marco Reus enabled Borussia Dortmund to come from behind and draw 3-3 at Wolfsburg but could not prevent Bayern extending its lead to 22 points with 88 overall - both records.

Bayern and Dortmund meet in the Champions League final at Wembley Stadium in London on May 25.

Elsewhere, third-place Bayer Leverkusen beat Hannover 3-1 and Borussia Moenchengladbach won 4-2 at Mainz, with Swedish striker Branimir Hrgota scoring a hat trick on his first Bundesliga start for the visitors.

Bayern made a strong start in Heynckes' last home game in charge, with Alex Manninger pulling off a fine save to deny Mueller's header.

But there was little he could do to stop Mueller in the 69th, when the Bayern winger finally broke the deadlock by meeting Dante's cross.

Frank Ribery did brilliantly to find Shaqiri, who turned and fired to the bottom right corner in the 82nd, despite Augsburg having five defenders in the area.

Ribery was again involved when he set up Luiz Gustavo to round off the scoring with three minutes remaining.

Duesseldorf was made to rue missed chances against Nuremberg after taking the lead through Hanno Balitsch's own goal in the 23rd.

Robert Mak equalized in the 58th and Marvin Plattenhardt scored from a free kick in the 64th as Nuremberg came from behind to win a game for the first time this season.

Furth got off to a great start in the third minute, when Matthias Zimmermann scored with what proved to be the home side's only shot on target in the first half.

Jonathan Schmid deservedly equalized in the 69th and Max Kruse made it 2-0 with a great individual effort in the 78th.

Furth had the chance to equalize from the penalty spot in injury time only for Oliver Baumann to save Nicola Djurdjic's spot kick.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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