Michel Bastos bagged a brace to spare FC Schalke 04's blushes in a 2-2 draw with 1. FSV Mainz 05
Michel Bastos bagged a brace to spare FC Schalke 04's blushes in a 2-2 draw with 1. FSV Mainz 05

Battle for Europe intensifies

Munich - The top half of the table once again took on a fresh complexion as 1. FSV Mainz 05 dropped out of the top six for the first time in four weeks to be replaced by in-form Hamburger SV. SC Freiburg and Fortuna Düsseldorf also picked up wins on another enthralling afternoon of Bundesliga football.

1. FSV Mainz 05 2-2 FC Schalke 04

Mainz were denied victory for the second week in succession as Schalke twice came from behind to claim a first point in three matches at the Coface Arena.

Austrian international Andreas Ivanschitz broke the deadlock, sliding in after Nicolai Müller had burst past three Schalke defenders to provide the pull-back. It took the visitors until just before half-time to muster a response as Christian Wetklo could only parry Jermaine Jones' rasping shot from range, allowing Raffael to sneak in and tee-up Michel Bastos for a simple finish.

Bastos to the fore

The half-time interval appeared to do did the visitors a world of good flew out of the blocks in the second half, but Julian Draxler squandered a gilt-edged opportunity when Wetklo got a toe to his close-range effort. The miss proved costly as Zdenek Pospech raced into the box at the other end, finishing expertly into the far corner post to restore Mainz's lead.

From there the hosts looked to be in control, but after Elkin Soto twice passed up the opportunity to grab a third, Mainz found themselves pegged back for a second time. 18-year-old Max Meyer showed composure beyond his years to pick out Bastos, who completed his brace with a fierce drive to spare Schalke's blushes.

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Hamburger SV 1-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach

Rafael van der Vaart’s stunning first half strike was enough to give Hamburger SV a narrow 1-0 victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach.

The visitors went into the game having conceded six goals in their last two games, but began the match solidly with the closest Hamburg coming to a goal Dennis Aogo's half-volley which flashed wide. It was clear a moment of magic would be required to break the deadlock and it duly arrived from van der Vaart, who collected the ball 30 yards from goal before rifling an unstoppable swerving shot into the top corner for his second goal of the season.

Rearguard action

The home side began the second period on the front foot and of all people it was Arango that prevented Gladbach from falling further behind, helping to divert Slobodan Rajkovic’s close range header wide of the target. The best hope for Lucien Favre’s men in attack seemed to come from Herrmann, and the 21-year-old almost fashioned an equaliser for his side but his teasing cross was glanced wide by Mike Hanke.

Gladbach’s exertions in Europe on Thursday night began to show as the minutes accumulated, but Hamburg were unable to capitalise. With Borussia sensing an equaliser, captain Filip Daems struck a powerful drive which missed the target by inches, before a barrage of set pieces into the Hamburg box were successfully cleared to seal consecutive league wins for the first time this season for Thorsten Fink’s men.

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SV Werder Bremen 2-3 SC Freiburg

SC Freiburg came out on top to win a thrilling encounter 3-2 away to Werder Bremen.

Thomas Schaaf’s home side had won consecutive games for the first time this season after triumphing in Stuttgart last week and began the game like a team in form as Petersen flashed the first chance of the game wide. Freiburg’s work rate was impressive in the early stages, however, and after Jan Rosenthal had gone close with two headers, they took the lead when Max Kruse’s half-volley found the corner.

Enthralling ending

Bremen were not behind for long, though, as excellent Kevin de Bruyne played in Nils Petersen to poke in an equaliser before the break. In the second period Freiburg had were indebted to keeper Oliver Baumann and the woodwork for ensuring the scores remained level. Only the crossbar kept out Zlatko Junuzovic’s header, before Baumann palmed Eljero Elia’s rebound clear. It turned out to be a crucial save as Freiburg retook the lead through Daniel Caligiuri’s penalty after the midfielder had been felled by Sebastian Prödl in the box.

The hosts hit back soon afterwards as Marko Arnautovic’s cross had ricocheted kindly for Petersen to tap home, but Christian Streich’s men continued to plug away and soon led for a third time as Gintner volleyed home after Karim Guede had struck the crossbar. Petersen hit the woodwork again for Bremen, but Freiburg held firm to claim a hard-earned victory.

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Fortuna Düsseldorf 1-0 Greuther Fürth

Düsseldorf added further distance between themselves and the bottom three with a narrow success at home to cellar dwellers Fürth.

After a lively opening from both sides, it was Fortuna who should have taken the lead inside three minutes when Robbie Kruse was brought down inside the box by Matthias Zimmermann, only for Wolfgang Hesl to deny Dani Schahin's from the spot.

Goal down, man down

The intensity of the half remained with chances at both ends, but Düsseldorf arguably deserved to break the deadlock when Axel Bellinghausen bettered Hesl one-on-one. Things soon got worse for Fürth as Jozsef Varga picked up a second yellow card to send Fürth in at the break both a goal and a man down.

Fortuna had chances to extend their lead in the second half, but Schahin headed over and Stefan Reisinger got his footing wrong when clean through on Hesl, who was once again on hand to stop Robbie Kruse in his tracks late on. Ultimately Düsseldorf were unable to exploit the numerical advantage, but with few signs of a of a comeback, Fürth were left empty handed.

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