Leverkusen closes gap on Bayern
Leverkusen, Germany (Sports Network) - Bayer Leverkusen continued its pursuit of runaway leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday as Stefan Kiessling scored a goal in each half of a 3-0 Leverkusen win over Hamburg.
Bayern's 1-1 draw with Monchengladbach on Friday handed Leverkusen the chance to close the gap to nine points ahead of the league's winter break, and Kiessling's brace ensured the win while Andre Schurrle tallied a goal of his own.
Schurrle struck the post three minutes into the match but Leverkusen would find the net twice before halftime to take firm command of the contest.
The first goal came midway through the half when Gonzalo Castro helped Schurrle's cross find the foot of Kiessling, who made no mistake with his finish.
Schurrle then scored himself nine minutes later as he beat defender Michael Mancienne and placed the ball beyond the reach of goalkeeper Rene Adler, who watched it go in off the post.
Castro saw a shot of his own hit the crossbar after the break before Kiessling capped the win with his second goal of the match by lobbing Adler after a long clearance from Bernd Leno.
Freiburg 3, Schalke 1
Gelsenkirchen, Germany - Schalke's slide down the Bundesliga table continued on Saturday as the club suffered a 3-1 home defeat to Freiburg.
Jefferson Farfan's goal in the 20th minute gave Schalke hope that its five- match winless streak would come to an end, but Jan Rosenthal scored on the break to level the contest with Max Kruse providing the final ball.
The two teams remained level for only six minutes, however, with Freiburg snatching the lead in the 32nd minute when Kruse delivered a corner kick into the area that Jonathan Schmid finished off.
Rosenthal found the net for a second time in the 61st minute to put Freiburg up 3-1, and both sides finished the game with 10 men as Rosenthal and Schalke's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar both received early exits.
Dusseldorf 2, Hannover 1
Dusseldorf, Germany - Ken Ilso's free kick in the 83rd minute allowed Dusseldorf to snatch a 2-1 home win against Hannover on Saturday, moving the club nine points clear of the bottom three.
Dani Schahin netted the lone goal of the first half for the home side in the 39th minute before Hannover equalized 20 minutes from time through Mame Biram Diouf, who was set up by Manuel Schmiedebach.
But in the final 10 minutes, Stefan Reisinger drew a foul in a dangerous area for Dusseldorf, and Ilso did the rest, finding the upper corner of the net with a right-footed shot that gave Hannover goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler little chance.
Greuther Furth 1, Augsburg 1
Furth, Germany - Augsburg and Greuther Furth did little to help their survival chances on Saturday as the Bundesliga's bottom two sides played out a 1-1 draw at the Trolli Arena.
Furth came into the game on the back of three successive defeats, while Augsburg was attempting to snap a nine-game winless run.
The visitors started well with Sascha Molders putting them ahead after nine minutes, while Furth notched the equalizer 20 minutes from time through Lasse Sobiech.
Both teams finished the contest with 10 men as Furth captain Mergim Mavraj picked up a second yellow card in the 76th minute, while Augsburg's Giovanni Sio was hit with a straight red just four minutes after entering the contest as a substitute.
Mainz 3, Stuttgart 1
Mainz, Germany - Stuttgart's three-match winning streak came to a close on Saturday at Mainz as Nicolai Muller scored twice in the second half of a 3-1 win for the home side.
The day began well for Stuttgart with Martin Harnik putting the club in front in the 48th minute with a header, but Mainz scored three unanswered goals over the final 35 minutes to claim all three points.
Muller tallied the equalizer in the 55th after exchanging passes with Zdenek Pospech and beating goalkeeper Sven Ulreich.
That duo combined once more in the 71st minute to put Mainz into the lead before Elkin Soto wrapped up the win in stoppage time by smashing a shot off the fingertips of Ulreich and into the roof of the net.
Eintracht 2, Wolfsburg 0
Wolfsburg, Germany - Eintracht climbed into third place after securing a 2-0 win at the Volkswagen Arena against Wolfsburg to go into the winter break on a positive note.
The game was essentially decided in the opening 20 minutes of the contest as Alexander Meier scored in the 12th minute to put Eintracht ahead before Josue was sent off for Wolfsburg three minutes later and Takashi Inui added another goal in the 18th minute to help Eintracht coast to a second straight win.
Meier's goal came on a well-taken free kick, while Josue was dismissed in the 15th minute for a poor challenge on Eintracht's Olivier Occean.
The visitors wasted little time in capitalizing and pretty much wrapped up three points when Inui redirected Stefan Aigner's cross past Wolfsburg goalkeeper Diego Benaglio, leaving the home side with no way back into the game.