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Bayern wrap up fastest Bundesliga title triumph

(Reuters) - Bayern Munich clinched the Bundesliga title in record time by beating Hertha Berlin 3-1 on Tuesday thanks to goals from Toni Kroos, Mario Goetze and Franck Ribery with seven games left in the campaign.

Bayern Munich's goalkeepers Manuel Neuer and Tom Starke (C) hold a mock German soccer championship trophy with Dante (R) as they celebrate winning the Bundesliga title after the German first division Bundesliga soccer match against Hertha Berlin, in Berlin March 25, 2014. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Last season’s treble winners claimed their 23rd Bundesliga crown with a 10th straight away victory, stretching their winning streak to a staggering 19 consecutive league games and their unbeaten run to 52 league matches - all Bundesliga records.

“I am satisfied that we did it,” Spanish coach Pep Guardiola, in his first season in charge, told reporters. “A game earlier or later does not matter. Congratulations to everyone at the club.”

“Now we will go out to dinner and celebrate,” added Guardiola, who managed to avoid the traditional on-pitch beer shower from his players. “We will enjoy the free time we have here.”

The Spaniard, who won 14 out of 19 titles in four years at Barcelona, has added the Bundesliga crown to the European Super Cup and Club World Cup titles Bayern won earlier this season.

They have an unassailable 25-point lead over second-placed Borussia Dortmund, who were runners-up last term, with 21 points to play for in Guardiola’s first season in charge.

“First of all the praise belongs to the coach and the team,” Bayern sports director Matthias Sammer told reporters as Guardiola celebrated with his players on the pitch.

“After the success of last season we continued to be very focused and we managed to win the league even earlier than last year. We have a concentration and a momentum right now which is unusual.”

Among those not present in the stadium to celebrate Bayern’s triumph was Uli Hoeness, the club’s former player, long-time manager and president, who was found guilty of tax evasion and sentenced to prison earlier this month.

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Germany coach Joachim Loew was in the stands and heaped praise on the team that provides the national side’s backbone.

“To win the title that early is an amazing performance,” Loew told reporters. “Pep Guardiola developed the team even further. His mark can be seen in their dominance and their possession.”

It did not take long for Bayern to show they meant business in front of a sell-out 76,000 Olympic stadium crowd, with Kroos slotting in a deflected clearance in the sixth minute and Goetze heading home Bastian Schweinsteiger’s cross in the 14th.

Adrian Ramos pulled one back for the hosts with a well-taken penalty in the 66th minute to inject some life into the second half as Bayern took their foot off the gas.

But Frenchman Ribery, who had come on as a substitute, completed a dazzling move, after a silky run and pass from Goetze, when he chipped the ball over goalkeeper Thomas Kraft to wrap up the points and the title.

Bayern’s success was their 24th German league title because they were also champions once - in the 1931/32 season - before the Bundesliga was created in 1963.

Dortmund could do nothing to prevent Tuesday’s celebrations in the capital after drawing 0-0 in their Ruhr valley derby at home to Schalke 04.

Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp was quick to congratulate arch-rivals Bayern.

“It is very impressive how Bayern did it,” he told reporters. “You have to take off your hat to them. They were so consistent in their strong performances and they were hungry.”

At the other end of the table, bottom club Eintracht Braunschweig breathed new life into their battle to stay up with a spirited 3-1 win over visiting Mainz 05 to move within two points of the relegation playoff spot.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris