Youthful exuberance propelling Dortmund to title

BERLIN - Youthful exuberance and a self-confidence beyond their years propelled Borussia Dortmund closer towards their first German championship since 2002 with a 3-1 victory over experienced Bayern Munich.

Coach Jurgen Klopp fielded the youngest Dortmund team for a Bundesliga game ever on Saturday with an average age of 22.7 years and his charges produced a sparkling display of attacking football to claim their first win in Munich in 20 years.

"We believe in us. We are confident, we operate as a team and we work hard for each other," said 22-year-old playmaker Nuri Sahin, whose team have 58 points and are 12 points clear of second-placed Bayer Leverkusen with 10 games to play.

In-form Bayern wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, who had helped Bayern score seven goals in their previous two games, crashed into a concrete Dortmund defence that has let in only 14 goals in 24 games.

Sahin outwitted his experienced Bayern counterpart Bastian Schweinsteiger throughout the game to confirm his status as the Bundesliga's biggest midfield talent and also scored Dortmund's second goal with a stunning left-footed shot.

It is no surprise that for the most recent Germany international friendly five Dortmund players won a call-up including 18-year-old Mario Goetze who wreaked havoc in the static Bayern defence.

Dortmund have had setbacks this season, just like Bayern, be it the long-term injuries to captain Sebastian Kehl, Patrick Owomoyela and Mohamed Zidan or the absences of Felipe Santana and Shinji Kagawa.

But the way Klopp's players have bounced back week after week is what makes their achievement this season so remarkable and their joy for the game so contagious.

Even 22-year-old Australian Mitchell Langerak, who made his Bundesliga debut due to the injury of Roman Weidenfeller, rose to the occasion seemingly unaffected by the big-game atmosphere in front of a sell-out 69,000 crowd.

He palmed away a difficult Bayern shot with remarkable confidence with the score at 2-1.

"I may not have looked nervous in the game but believe me I was," said Langerak.

Title talk is still banned for the 1997 Champions League winners, who are refusing to even say the t-word.

"Which word?" asked Sahin. "I don't know that word. No, I honestly do not know this word.