Marco Russ (r.) gave Eintracht Frankfurt the points against Schalke 04, taking them to within a point of their rivals in fourth place
Marco Russ (r.) gave Eintracht Frankfurt the points against Schalke 04, taking them to within a point of their rivals in fourth place

Frankfurt reel in Schalke as Leverkusen pull away

Munich - Eintracht Frankfurt closed in on fourth-place FC Schalke 04 after ending a poor run of form with victory over their direct European rivals.

Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0 FC Schalke 04

That result allowed Bayer 04 Leverkusen to pull away in third, while Hamburger SV boosted their own hopes of a top-six finish in a goal-filled Saturday afternoon. rounds up the events from around Germany's top flight...

Eintracht Frankfurt reduced the arrears on Schalke 04 in the hunt for fourth place to a single point with a 1-0 win at the Commerzbank Arena. Oka Nikolov defied his 38 years to make fine saves from Michel Bastos, Marco Höger and Raffael as the Royal Blues stormed out of the blocks.

The Frankfurt custodian then exceeded himself to prevent Bastos from giving the visitors the lead from the penalty spot after Stefan Aigner handled the ball inside the penalty area. Inspired by their goalkeeper’s defiance, Frankfurt started to take the initiative and went in front just before the break through Marco Russ' header.

Nikolov the hero

Schalke continued to push in the second half as they had in the first, but it was the same old story for the Royal Blues, who found Nikolov in fine fettle in the Frankfurt goal. Not to be outdone at the other end, Timo Hildebrand denied Inui as the hosts found chances on the break to double their advantage.

17-year-old Marc Stendera, making his debut in the starting XI, set up Karim Matmour for a header which missed the target, but a second goal was not required as the Eagles ended a run of four home games without a win to celebrate in front of their own fans for the first time in nearly three months, reducing the deficit on Schalke to just a single point.

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Bayer 04 Leverkusen 5-0 1899 Hoffenheim

Bayer 04 Leverkusen cemented third place in the Bundesliga, leaving Hoffenheim ever deeper in relegation danger with a 5-0 win at the BayArena. After resisting for the first quarter of an hour, Hoffenheim were finally beaten when Stefan Kießling put the hosts in front.

The striker appeared to be on his way to a second when he was brought down by Eugen Polanski inside the penalty area. The Hoffenheim midfielder was shown the red card, but further punishment was averted by Koen Casteels, who denied Simon Rolfes from the spot. A second Leverkusen goal was not long in arriving, though, with Andre Schürrle firing an unstoppable shot past Casteels from outside the area.

More of the same

Hoffenheim have never recovered from a two-goal deficit to win a game in the Bundesliga, and with only ten men, the writing was on the wall for Markus Gisdol’s men at half time. Kießling netted his 21st goal of the season with a header from Daniel Carvajal’s cross, before Schürrle got in on the act again with his second.

There was no resistance at all from a Hoffenheim defence, but the hosts were not yet finished, as Stefan Reinartz made it five, pouncing first on the loose ball after Arkadiusz Milik was denied first by Casteels and then by the post. With two wins and two draws in their last four games, Leverkusen are now within touching distance of a place in the Champions League next season.

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Hamburger SV 2-1 Fortuna Düsseldorf

Hamburg captain Rafael van der Vaart inspired the north German side to a 2-1 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf. The Dutchman has looked transformed since being given the captain’s armband by coach Thorsten Fink last weekend, and he gave Hamburg the lead in novel fashion - with his first ever headed goal in the Bundesliga.

Six minutes later, the midfielder struck again, intelligently tucking his shot through the legs of Fabian Giefer from close range to put HSV on course for victory with only 20 minutes played. Düsseldorf hauled themselves back into the game before half time when Schahin, on as a replacement for the injured Genki Omae, caught the Hamburg defence napping to head in from Axel Bellinghausen’s free-kick.

Holding on

Heung Min Son wasted a good chance to restore Hamburg’s two-goal advantage early in the second half with a tame finish just wide of the right-hand post. It almost proved costly, as Düsseldorf mounted a late assault on the Hamburg goal.

Martin Latka was their danger man, missing two efforts as the hosts packed men behind the ball to defend their lead. They succeeded to end a run of three home games without a win, leaving Düsseldorf eight games since their last victory and just three points above the relegation zone.

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