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Klose sends Bayern top

BERLIN, January 16- Germany striker Miroslav Klose came off the bench to help fire Bayern Munich back to the top of the Bundesliga after more than 600 days away as the German giants beat Hoffenheim 2-0 on Friday.Despite being top-scorer at the 2006 World Cup, this was Klose’s first league goal of the season and he started the game as third-choice striker behind Germany team-mate Mario Gomez and Croatia’s Ivica Olic.

Klose, 31, took over from Olic after 63 minutes and then netted from close-range on 86 minutes to hand Louis van Gaal’s Bayern a single-point lead at the top of the table as action resumed after the long winter break.

Argentina centre-back Martin Demichelis had opened the scoring for Bayern in the first half.

Despite the win, Bayer Leverkusen could regain the lead on Saturday when they face mid-table Mainz.

Bayern have been crowned German champions 21 times, but May 17, 2008 was the last time they had sat on top of the Bundesliga.

The hosts took the lead at Munich’s Allianz Arena after 35 minutes when Germany midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger crossed in the ball from the right and Hoffenheim defender Josip Simunic headed the ball onto the back post.

Demichelis, who is set to play for his country against Germany in a pre-World Cup friendly in Munich in March, stabbed the ball home from five metres out.

Klose, who has only made eight league starts this season, proved his status as Germany’s number one striker with some clinical finishing to make sure van Gaal’s team claimed the three points.

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Dutch winger Arjen Robben passed back to captain Mark van Bommel on the edge of the penalty area and his speculative shot was stabbed home by Klose, who was the fastest to react.

With 48 goals for Germany in 93 appearances, Klose showed just why he is, injury permitting, almost sure of being in Joachim Loew’s squad for the World Cup in South Africa in June.

The defeat leaves Hoffenheim seventh, but Bayern could still finish the weekend only third if both Leverkusen and Schalke, who face second-from-bottom Nuremberg on Sunday, pick up three points.

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