Finnish striker Teemu Pukki (l.) was on the scoresheet as Schalke defeated Hoffenheim 3-0
Finnish striker Teemu Pukki (l.) was on the scoresheet as Schalke defeated Hoffenheim 3-0

Schalke back in business; Freiburg close on Europe

Munich - FC Schalke 04 consolidated their place among the European berths with a sound victory at home to 1899 Hoffenheim, while SC Freiburg leapfrogged Borussia Mönchengladbach with a win of their own to close in on the top six. 1. FSV Mainz 05 were held at home by SV Werder Bremen and there was away-day joy for Hannover, who finally won again on the road in Augsburg.

FC Schalke 04 3-0 1899 Hoffenheim

Goals from Marco Höger, Raffael and Teemu Pukki gave FC Schalke 04 an ultimately comfortable 3-0 win over 1899 Hoffenheim.

The home side had the bit between the teeth from the off at the Veltins Arena, with 1899 goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes doing well to prevent Farfan reaching Atsuto Uchida’s inviting cross, before Michel Bastos drilled a free-kick wide of the target and Hoffenheim captain Andreas Beck denied Farfan with a superb sliding challenge.

Quality tells

In the second period Schalke continued to probe and eventually made the breakthrough after a Hoffenheim attack broke down. Höger started and finished an excellent move with a classy finish, before Raffael steered home a second minutes later, and with that the result was effectively settled.

Hoffenheim’s players were visibly rattled after conceding the two goals and substitute Pukki took his chance to add his name to the scoresheet. The Finn fired home from Raffael’s pass to give the home home side a more than satisfactory return to league action after the international break.

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SC Freiburg 2-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach

SC Freiburg ended a four-game search for victory to end Borussia Mönchengladbach’s four-game unbeaten streak and edge back up towards the top six with a 2-0 triumph.

Having conceded ten goals in their last two matches, Freiburg’s priority was to keep a clean sheet at the Mage-Solar Stadion but Freiburg accepted various invitations to test Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who had to be at his best to keep out efforts from Jan Rosenthal and Mensur Mujdza and keep his side on terms at half-time.

Kruse at the double

The visitors appeared to wake up early in the second half with Luuk de Jong reminding Oliver Baumann he too was involved in the match with a close-range header. Yet the best chances continued to fall Freiburg's way with Daniel Caligiuri denied both by ter Stegen and Filip Daems on the goal-line before they finally made the breakthrough.

Max Kruse got the all important opener for the Black Forest outfit, slamming his shot from just outside the penalty area past ter Stegen before adding a second in stoppage time to earn Freiburg their tenth win of the season, equalling the amount of victories they managed in the whole of last term.

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1. FSV Mainz 05 1-1 SV Werder Bremen

Werder Bremen recovered from an early setback to snatch a point from their visit to FSV Mainz 05.

The sound of the referee’s opening whistle was still ringing around the Coface Arena when the ball first hit the back of the net. Just 12 and a half seconds was all Adam Szalai needed to score the season's quickest goal - the fourth-fastest in Bundesliga history - and send the home fans into raptures.

Positive reaction

Stunned but not defeated, Bremen defied their poor recent form with a positive response, hitting the woodwork through Nils Petersen early in the second half.

It was the prelude to some strong pressure from the northerners. Petersen and Aaron Hunt were leading their assault on the Mainz goal but when Marko Arnautovic was sent on by Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf to add more weight to his side’s attack, the Austrian almost instantly set up the equaliser for Hunt to keep Werder at least three games away from a place in the bottom three.

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FC Augsburg 0-2 Hannover 96

Hannover secured their first away win since November courtesy of Konstantin Rausch’s maiden Bundesliga brace.

The Bavarians went into the game with the third-highest points haul in 2013 and they made a positive start at the SGL Arena. However, Torsten Oehrl headed wastefully off-target eight minutes in before Matthias Ostrzolek skied a free-kick over the bar. The home side finished the half in the ascendancy too, with South Korean forward Dong-Won Ji desperately unlucky to see his curling effort brush the crossbar.

Rausch on time

Ji had a goalbound header cleared off the goal-line as Augsburg’s dominance continued after the break, but Hannover withheld the pressure and showed their ruthless side to take the lead against the run of play just after the hour-mark. Rausch’s first effort was well blocked, but the ball rebounded kindly and the 23-year-old sent a strike a low shot beyond Mohamed Amsif.

Augsburg responded admirably and should have scored an equaliser when Callsen-Bracker headed against the post, but the ball simply wouldn’t fall for the hosts and Rausch broke their hearts with a clinical lob in the dying seconds.

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