Leverkusen win to pressure Dortmund
Bayer Leverkusen moved to within seven points of Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund and strengthened their hold on second place with a comfortable 2-0 win over Schalke. First-half goals from Eren Derdiyok and a Christoph Metzelder own goal earned the home side all three points to take them five points ahead of third-placed Hannover with seven games of the season remaining.
Josef Eichkorn's one and only game in charge of the Die Konigsblauen ended in a deserved defeat as he was unable to breathe life into a side which has excelled in the cup competitions, but disappointed in the Bundesliga this season.
Ralf Rangnick will take over as coach from tomorrow and he inherits a side which is in the final of the DFB-Pokal and the last eight of the UEFA Champions League, but now just five points above the relegation zone in the Bundesliga.
Leverkusen started as they meant to go on with Sidney Sam racing through on goal, but Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer prevented him from dribbling past him in the eighth minute. Sixty seconds later, Neuer made an excellent save to deny Michael Ballack from scoring with a header.
Derdiyok opens scoring
There was nothing the Germany number one could do about Derdiyok's stunning opening goal in the 19th minute, though. He met Ballack's pass on the volley and struck the ball sweetly into the top right-hand corner of the goal with the ball just grazing the underside of the crossbar on its way in.
An own goal by Metzelder made it two in the 27th minute. Renato Augusto's cross from the left was headed in by the former Germany international at his near post as he tried to clear the ball behind for a corner.
Schalke tried to show a reaction in the second half when Rene Adler saved from Raul before pushing Jose Jurado's shot over the crossbar. But the home side were never in danger of letting their lead slip as they took all three points to put them on course for a place in the Champions League.
However, that may still not be enough to convince their coach Jupp Heynckes to stick around next season. He will announce his plans in the coming hours amid rumours he has already agreed to move to Bayern Munich next season, while Freiburg's Robin Dutt is being lined up to replace him, according to reports in Germany.