Bayern held as Schalke stutter
Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich failed to take full advantage of second-placed Schalke's slip-up at Hannover this afternoon as they were held to a draw at Bayer Leverkusen.
Arjen Robben put Bayern ahead from the penalty spot in the 51st minute, but Arturo Vidal brought Leverkusen level within 10 minutes. The home side had the best chances to win it, but were fortunate not to give away a penalty in stoppage time as they earned a point which left them six points behind Bayern, who extended their lead over Schalke to two points.
"It was a very even match with few goal-scoring chances," said Bayern manager Louis van Gaal after the match. "Bayer created the better chances and they would have hoped to get more out of the game. We gave too many balls away, which allowed Leverkusen to put us in a few dangerous situations. But we are two points ahead of Schalke and six in front of Leverkusen. It's in our hands."
Schalke's title challenge was dealt a major blow by Hannover, who lifted themselves above Freiburg to 16th with a 4-2 win at the Niedersachsen Stadion. An own goal from Heiko Westermann in the 17th minute and Didier Ya Konan's strike five minutes later put the home side on their way to victory, but Schalke fought back to 2-2 with two goals in the first six minutes of the second half from Edu and Ivan Rakitic, the latter from the penalty spot.
But relegation-threatened Hannover drew on all of their reserves of energy to go ahead again through Hanno Balitsch with 10 minutes remaining before Ya Konan's second in stoppage time sealed all three points.
Champions League qualification hopefuls Borussia Dortmund lost 1-0 at Mainz as Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp made an unhappy return to his old stomping ground. Adam Szalai scored the game's only goal after 30 minutes as Mainz snapped a three-game losing streak.
Big goals for Pizarro and Cacau
Claudio Pizarro netted two goals and set up another as Werder Bremen remained in the hunt for a top-three finish with a 4-0 triumph over Freiburg. Pizarro opened the scoring in the 35th minute and provided the assist for Aaron Hunt to double the home side's lead after 53 minutes. Peruvian striker Pizarro struck a second time three minutes later before Mesut Ozil added a fourth after 66 minutes. Freiburg dropped to second from bottom and three points adrift of safety.
Substitute Cacau gave Stuttgart a huge victory in their push to play European football next season as basement boys Hertha Berlin remained in serious danger of relegation. Cacau entered the game in the 57th minute and scored the game's only goal in the 74th minute for Stuttgart's first victory at Hertha since the 1990-91 season - a run of four draws and eight losses. Christian Gross' Stuttgart extended their winning streak to four games. And after just one loss in eight matches, they have 47 points for sixth place - four points behind Bremen.
Adam Matuschyk scored twice in the second half as Cologne earned a critical victory on the road against Hoffenheim to stay clear of the relegation fight.