Hamburg, Hertha in title pursuit
© AFP

Croatia striker Mladen Petric's double kept Hamburg firmly in the title race as their 2-1 win over Hannover left them level with Bayern Munich and just three points behind leaders Wolfsburg. Hamburg are still in the hunt to win the treble of German Cup, UEFA Cup and Bundesliga titles.

Petric, who took his tally for the season to 12, opened the scoring with the game barely begun as Jerome Boateng floated the ball in from the right and the striker volleyed home after just two minutes. The Croatian netted again when Hamburg's Peru striker Jose Paolo Guerrero fired a shot which Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke saved, only for Petric to pounce on the rebound and tap the ball into an empty net on 52 minutes. Hannover pulled a goal back on 69 minutes when substitute Mikael Forssell slotted home a 70th minute penalty, but Hamburg were not to be denied and they now stand on 51 points alongside Bayern.

"With so many games in quick succession, it is difficult to keep playing well," said Petric, whose side knocked Manchester City out of the UEFA Cup last week and now face Bremen in the semi-final of the German Cup on Wednesday. "But we have done very well to get this result, it was important to get the win," he said.

Hertha fightback

Hertha Berlin are back in the title race having come from behind to pick up their first win in three games, as Brazil striker Raffael scored a late goal to seal a 2-1 win over Werder Bremen at Berlin's Olympic Stadium. Bremen went ahead when Germany defender Per Mertesacker won a goal-mouth scramble in the 43rd minute after a corner from Torsten Frings.

But Berlin pulled a goal back when Croatia defender Josip Simunic headed an equaliser in the 71st minute, before Raffael's late strike gave the home side three valuable points after defeats to Hannover and Stuttgart in previous weeks. The win puts Hertha fourth in the table and five points behind leaders Wolfsburg.

On 18 April, Brazil striker Grafite kept up his phenomenal scoring record with a brace as Wolfsburg stayed three points clear at the top with a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen. Grafite has now scored 22 league goals in 19 games this season to top the goal-scoring table and keep his side on course for their first Bundesliga title, as Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath looks to usurp defending champions Bayern Munich.

Magath was sacked by Bayern in February 2007, but he has forged Wolfsburg into a strong unit who remain unbeaten at home this season. Their tenth consecutive league win means Wolfsburg have equalled the record for most wins in a row in a single season set by Borussia Moenchengladbach in 1987.

Bayern Munich are second after Italy's Luca Toni scored the winning goal for the defending champions to seal a 1-0 victory at Arminia Bielefeld. Germany striker Mario Gomez took his total haul for the season to 18 league goals after he netted a hat-trick for Stuttgart in their 3-0 win at Cologne which put his side fourth in the table.

Hoffenheim drop to eighth in the table, and all but out of the title race, after they drew 2-2 with bottom side Karlsruhe which leaves the former league leaders 12 points behind Wolfsburg. Dortmund are up to seventh after their 2-0 win at Bochum and Frankfurt are 11th following their 4-1 win over relegation-threatened Borussia Moenchengladbach.

On 17 April, Energie Cottbus were humbled 4-0 by Schalke and the team have offered to reimburse the 600 fans who made the 610km journey from east Germany to Gelsenkirchen. The win leaves Schalke sixth in the table.