Bayern Munich coach Jurgen Klinsmann acknowledged that his side and Hamburg had handed the initiative to leaders Wolfsburg after both teams suffered shock defeats. Bayern's 1-0 loss at home to Schalke leaves the defending champions in third place and three points off leaders Wolfsburg, who can go five points clear if they beat Energie Cottbus on 26 April.
"If Wolfsburg win on Sunday, that will make things difficult for us to win the championship, that is undeniable, but we still have five more matches," said Klinsmann.
Hamburg's 2-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund puts Martin Jol's side back in fifth and level on 54 points with Stuttgart and Bayern, with Hertha Berlin on 55 points. Hertha are second in the league after midfielder Patrick Ebert hit a first-half goal, sealing his side's 1-0 win at Hoffenheim on 24 April.
Before the Schalke game, Bayern president Franz Beckenbauer said he would be content to finish second in the league and the runner-up spot now looks more realistic with five league games left. Bayern fell behind when Schalke's Turkey striker Halil Altintop headed home from four metres after 21 minutes. With his side 1-0 down at half-time at Munich's Allianz Arena, Klinsmann was booed by his own fans as he walked to the dressing room.
Schalke were lucky to keep Jermaine Jones on the pitch when he hit Bayern captain Mark van Bommel in the face on 38 minutes and the Germany midfielder was shown a yellow card. But Jones was not so lucky when he brought van Bommel down again on 70 minutes to earn his second yellow and the consequential red. Bayern were also reduced to ten men when French midfielder Franck Ribery was shown a second yellow card after a tackle on Schalke's Jefferson Farfan on 76 minutes.
Elsewhere, Jurgen Klopp-coached Dortmund have now won five league games on the trot and are up to seventh in the table after their 2-0 win over Hamburg. Hamburg went behind when the ball was played in from the left and midfielder Sebastian Kehl shot past Hamburg goalkeeper Frank Rost after 32 minutes, with Swiss striker Alexander Frei then converting a 90th-minute penalty. Stuttgart are fourth in the table after strikers Cacau and Mario Gomez scored in the 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt which keeps them in the five-way title race.
Despite having reached next month's German Cup final and being set to play in the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup this week, Werder Bremen's Jekyll and Hyde form looked to be continuing as they fell 2-0 behind at Bochum. But second-half goals by striker Hugo Almeida, Brazil defender Naldo and midfielder Diego gave them a 3-2 win, which leaves them tenth in the table, as they prepare for their UEFA Cup match with Hamburg on 1 May.
Bottom side Karlsruhe gave themselves a chance of staying up after beating Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 with one of the luckiest goals of the season. Karlsruhe defender Sebastian Langkamp lunged at the ball on the halfway line to try to win possession, but got more than he could have dreamed of when the ball curled over the Leverkusen defence and goalkeeper Rene Adler into the net.
His 72nd-minute strike leaves Karlsruhe just one point behind relegation rivals Borussia Moenchengladbach and Energie Cottbus, both of whom play on 26 April, while mid-table Hannover enjoyed a 2-0 win over Cologne. Leaders Wolfsburg are at Cottbus on 26 April while Borussia Monchengladbach host Arminia Bielefeld.