BREAKING: Ribery and Benzema acquitted

The France stars were accused of knowingly having sex with an under-age prostitute, but will not face prosecution after being acquitted on Thursday

Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery and Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema have both been acquitted over charges of soliciting an under-age prostitute.

Ribery, 30, admitted to paying for sex with Zahia Dehar back in 2009, but denied being aware that she was younger than 18 at the time of the incident.

Benzema, 26, rejected all accusations of having any sexual involvement with the same girl, with the Criminal Court of Paris ruling there was not enough evidence to prosecute either player.

The age of consent in France is 15, but paying for intercourse with someone below the age of 18 is classed as having sex with a minor.

Ribery, Benzema and Zahia all opted not to attend the court case.

Mandzukic must be at his best – Sammer

The Croatian striker has been in and out of the Bayern team of late, but their sporting director believes he can still play an important role in the side

Bayern Munich sporting director Matthias Sammer has urged Mario Mandzukic to be on top form for the rest of the season.

The Croatia international was left out of the team for last Friday’s 2-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach, prompting speculation over his future, given the arrival of Robert Lewandowski in the summer.

However, the former Borussia Dortmund boss believes that the 27-year-old is still a vital member of the squad – but only if he performs to the best of his abilities.

“Mario Mandzukic is an extremely important player for us, but only if he does all that he can do,” the 1996 Ballon d’Or winner told Sky.

“It’s fantastic and worth gold. He has to do it over again, even when things get tough. He’s shown a reaction, but there must be more to come.”

Mandzukic has scored 10 goals in 17 Bundesliga appearances this season and came off the bench during Wednesday’s dramatic 2-1 win over Stuttgart.

Winning with a wondergoal felt fantastic – Thiago

The midfielder was thrilled to have clinched a win for Bayern Munich in stoppage-time, while Philipp Lahm admits that the Bavarians got lucky with the victory

Thiago Alcantara expressed his delight after his wondergoal gave Bayern Munich a stoppage-time 2-1 win over Stuttgart on Wednesday.

The Spaniard sealed the result in the 93rd minute after Claudio Pizarro equalised for the Bavarians with 14 minutes to go, following Vedad Ibisevic’s unlikely opener for the hosts.

Thiago’s acrobatic volley continued the Roten’s brilliant run of results as they look well on their way to defending their Bundesliga title this season, though the 22-year-old insisted that Stuttgart put in a solid shift en route to almost snatching a point from Pep Guardiola’s men.

“We tried to get this win right to the very end,” the former Barcelona star told reporters. “It was fantastic to score such a wondergoal.

“I think teams tend to give their all when they play against Bayern and do everything to get a win. Stuttgart have a very strong team and made life very difficult for us, but this was a great chance to extend our lead over the teams in second and third, and we managed to take it.”

Philipp Lahm, who played in the defensive midfield role on Wednesday that he has made his own this campaign, thought the victory was fortunate and suggested teams are keen to become the first ones to beat Bayern in the 2013-14 league campaign.

“When it’s 1-1 just a few minutes from time, then of course it’s a lucky win,” the club captain said. “We were not as clinical as usual.

“We showed in the second half how we can play patiently. Stuttgart did a good job. Now everybody wants to be the first opponents to beat us.”

The victory leaves Bayern 17 points clear of third-placed Borussia Dortmund and 13 points adrift of nearest rivals Bayer Leverkusen.

Bayern got lucky, admits Guardiola

The Spaniard paid tribute to Thiago Alcantara’s “fantastic” last-minute volley against Stuttgart which sealed a dramatic 2-1 comeback win

Pep Guardiola admitted Bayern Munich had a huge stroke of luck after Thiago Alcantara secured a 2-1 victory at Stuttgart in the 93rd minute on Wednesday.

Bayern looked a shadow of their normal selves in the opening 75 minutes of the Bundesliga clash and found themselves staring at their first domestic defeat of the season until the closing stages.

Vedad Ibisevic opened the scoring for Stuttgart in the 29th minute with a poacher’s goal from 10 yards, but the striker and Martin Harnik both wasted further chances to double the home side’s lead.

That cost them as substitute Claudio Pizarro levelled for Bayern with 14 minutes remaining before Thiago’s late acrobatic volley stole the points and extended the defending champions’ unbeaten Bundesliga run to 43 games.

Guardiola acknowledged his side were far from their best and had some fortune with their late comeback.

“At the end we were lucky, it was a fantastic goal and an incredible victory,” he reflected.

“After the substitutions of Pizarro and [Mario] Mandzukic we created more chances.

“Stuttgart played very well for 30 minutes, were more aggressive and won many battles. We had trouble finding our rhthym.”

Bayern’s win moves them 13 points clear of Bayer Leverkusen at the top of the Bundesliga and also means they have scored in each of their last 28 away games in the league.

Stuttgart 1-2 Bayern Munich: Last-gasp Thiago puts Bavarians 13 points clear

Bayern Munich extended their lead at the summit of the Bundesliga to 13 points as they were forced to come from behind to win 2-1 in Stuttgart thanks to Thiago Alcantara’s stoppage-time strike.

The home side opened the scoring just before half an hour had been played thanks to Vedad Ibisevic, but the guests threw players forward in the second period and eventually snatched a levelling goal through Claudio Pizarro before the Spaniard’s late winner.

Bayern’s win extends their lead at the top of the table, and ensures their 43-game unbeaten run in the league continues.

The visitors named an unchanged side for the first time in Pep Guardiola’s reign, with rumoured Juventus target Mario Mandzukic among the substitutes.

Stuttgart brought Rani Khedira and Timo Werner into their starting line-up and the latter should have opened the scoring in the eighth minute.

After Mohammed Abdellaoue lost possession inside the penalty area, the loose ball fell for the 17-year-old but he blazed over the crossbar without testing Manuel Neuer.

Bayern survived a penalty shout against Rafinha four minutes later as Werner’s header struck the right-back’s arm inside the area, with referee Manuel Grafe not convinced as he waved home appeals away.

Guardiola’s side were far from their normal fluent self and were punished in the 29th minute as Ibisevic netted his 10th league goal of the season.

Werner’s deflected shot from the edge of the area dropped to the Bosnian striker via the boot of Abdellaoue, who looked offside, and he calmly fired past Neuer from 10 yards to give the hosts a deserved lead.

Thiago and Xherdan Shaqiri both went close to levelling for Bayern in the closing minutes of the first half but were unable to beat Sven Ulreich.

Ibisevic had a chance to double his tally, and Stuttgart’s lead, early in the second half but he fired wide of goal after a mistake from Rafinha.

With 54 minutes played, the hosts had another chance to score, and they would have made it 2-0 had it not been for a goalline clearance from Jerome Boateng.

Former Barcelona man Thiago and Thomas Muller were denied by Ulreich but substitute Pizarro had no problems beating the goalkeeper with a well-placed header in the 76th minute.

Fellow substitute Mandzukic had a chance to win the game in the closing minutes but Thiago spared Bayern’s blushes with an acrobatic volley in the last seconds of the match.