BERLIN, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Bayern Munich needed a late Thomas Mueller goal to beat hosts VfB Stuttgart 1-0 on Saturday and go into the winter break with an 11-point lead.
The champions, whose keeper Sven Ulreich saved a stoppage-time penalty, were again far from effective and looked somewhat surprised by the level of resistance offered by Stuttgart.
But their opponents gradually ran out of steam after the hour and Bayern started creating more chances through Corentin Tolisso and Kingsley Coman.
Frenchman Coman then found Mueller in the box and the striker fired in from a tight corner to beat Ron-Robert Zieler in the 79th minute. Bayern then survived the late penalty scare with Ulreich denying the hosts.
The win lifted Bayern to 41 points, with second-placed Schalke 04 rescuing a last-gasp 2-2 at Eintracht Frankfurt to move onto 30.
RB Leipzig, third on 28 can overtake them on Sunday, when they take on Hertha Berlin.
Bottom club Cologne beat VfL Wolfsburg 1-0, celebrating their first win of the season.
Borussia Dortmund, in eighth on 25, are in action later on Saturday against Hoffenheim. (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar)