Bayern Munich trimmed Borussia Dortmund's lead at the top of the Bundesliga to two points today as the Bavarians enjoyed a 2-1 home win over Hannover.
After midfielder Toni Kroos put the hosts ahead at Munich's Allianz Arena with a well-taken first-half chip, German forward Mario Gomez extended his tally as the Bundesliga's top-scorer with his 23rd goal in 26 matches.
Gomez rolled his shot under Hannover goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler on 68 minutes to claim Bayern's second before Ivorian striker Didier Ya Konan pulled a goal back with a spectacular bicycle kick on 74 minutes.
Hannover, who face Atletico Madrid in the first-leg of their UEFA Europa League quarter-finals tie on Thursday, could have rescued a point as ex-Manchester United striker Mame Diouf headed over the bar with time almost up.
"You can see why Hannover 96 are in the last eight of the Europa League and the top third of the league table," said Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, whose team beat Moenchengladbach on penalties on Wednesday in the DFB-Pokal semi-final.
"They were well organised and not easy to play against. Overall, we deserved the win and I am very satisfied. We now have to just win our games and worry about ourselves. The team did well just two-and-a-half days after our cup win."
With Dortmund at Cologne tomorrow in the Rhineland derby, Bayern took the opportunity to cut the defending champions lead, leaving them on 57 points to Dortmund's 59 with seven matches left.
Schalke cruise past Bayer
Schalke 04, who host Bilbao in the quarter-finals of the Europa League on Thursday, moved up to third in the table with a 2-0 win at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday evening. Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored with headers either side of half-time to seal the win to leave him with 22 goals in 25 league goals this season and second in the goal-scoring table only to Gomez.
The Dutch hot-shot opened the scoring on 18 minutes when he converted a cross from Austrian defender Christian Fuchs and struck again four minutes from time after a final pass from Peruvian striker Jefferson Farfan.
Borussia Moechengladbach slipped back to fourth in the title race when they threw away the lead to lose 2-1 at home to Hoffenheim, which leaves them six points behind Bayern, eight behind Dortmund.
Gladbach were cruising to victory after a first-half goal from Dortmund-bound midfielder Marco Reus seven minutes before half-time, but Hoffenheim took the three points with two goals in as many second-half minutes. Brazilian midfielder Roberto Firmino earned a yellow card for his shirtless celebrations on 77 minutes before a sharp header from Boris Vukcevic on 79 minutes scuppered Gladbach's hopes.
Kaiserslautern go down again
Kaiserslautern coach Krassimir Balakov, who took over after Marco Kurz was sacked in midweek, had an unhappy start to his tenure as his team were beaten 2-0 at Freiburg to remain bottom of the league.
It was Kaiserslautern's 17th league game without a win and means they are now six points adrift at the bottom. The win lifts Freiburg to 14th and drops Hamburg into the relegation places after they lost 2-1 to Wolfsburg yesterday.
Hamburg's chairman Carl-Edgar Jarchow has backed coach Thorsten Fink to keep them away from relegation despite the club's fourth consecutive defeat seeing them slip down into the bottom three. Finally, Hertha Berlin remain second from bottom despite their 3-1 win at Mainz, but things are tight at the bottom as only two points separate 17th and 13th in the league.