Hamburg and Schalke remain locked on points in the tight race for promotion after the two giants played out a 1-1 draw, while Darmstadt made up ground on leaders St. Pauli in Bundesliga 2.
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Hamburg and Schalke go into the winter break level on points, but outside the automatic promotion places, after Manchester City loanee Ko Itakura scored late to cancel out an early Robert Glatzel goal at the Volksparkstadion.
Bremen put on a strong second-half display away at fellow northerners Hannover to start the Rückrunde in seventh – only a point off HSV in third.
League leaders Pauli began the second half of the campaign in the worst possible way with a comprehensive defeat at Kiel.
Darmstadt left it late but were able to capitalise on Pauli’s slip with victory at Regensburg, moving to just a point behind the leaders.
Ingolstadt got just their second win of the season – and first at home – as they made light work of fellow promoted side Dresden in their second game under Rüdiger Rehm, but Die Schanzer remain four points adrift at the bottom.
Nuremberg joined the pack of four teams on 30 points as Nikola Dovedan’s hat-trick gave them victory at Aue.
Paderborn lost yet more ground in the promotion race with a fifth straight game without victory after Heidenheim claimed the spoils at the Benteler-Arena to join the four teams on 30 points.
Pascal Breier’s two goals early and late in the game earned promoted Rostock a point at mid-table Karlsruhe.
Sandhausen climbed out of the automatic drop zone after Pascal Testroet got the only goal of the game in Düsseldorf, who are now only three points ahead of their opponents in the relegation play-off spot.