Mario Gomez returned to haunt his former club with two goals as Bayern Munich opened up a three-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga with victory at 10-man Stuttgart.

Christian Gentner put the home side in front in the seventh minute, but Gomez brought Bayern level six minutes later.

Stuttgart were reduced to 10 men in the 29th minute when Cristian Molinaro was given a harsh red card and Gomez sealed Bayern’s victory in the 57th minute.

Bayern hammered Stuttgart 6-3 and 5-3 in league and cup matches last December, and the hosts were keen to avoid a repeat of those humiliations.

They took an early lead when Molinaro’s cross was headed back by Martin Harnik and Gentner stretched out a leg to send a half-volley past Manuel Neuer.

Gomez brought Bayern level when he beat Serdar Tasci and Sven Ulreich to a deflected cross from Rafinha, diverting the ball in at the near post.

A shot from Thomas Muller then took a deflection which made it hard for Stuttgart goalkeeper Sven Ulreich, who made a good instinctive save.

Stuttgart were reduced to 10 men before the half-hour mark as a controversial decision saw Molinaro receive a second yellow card, despite making what appeared a good tackle on Arjen Robben.

Bayern finally took advantage of their extra man to go in front in the 57th minute.

Philipp Lahm pulled the ball back to Gomez, who netted his 15th goal of the season from 10 yards out.

Stuttgart showed plenty of fight in a bid to get back on level terms, though, and Gomez had to clear off his own line in the 80th minute before Cacau raced onto Daniel van Buyten’s weak headed backpass only to scoop the loose ball over the bar.

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