Berlin: Salomon Kalou broke Hamburg hearts as he came off the bench to secure a 2-1 victory for Hertha Berlin on Saturday, while a Robin Knoche own goal saw Schalke steal a 1-0 victory in Wolfsburg.
The win for Schalke denies Bayern Munich the chance to wrap up the Bundesliga title in Leipzig on Sunday evening, with the second-placed Royal Blues now 17 points behind the leaders.
Wolfsburg had the better of the first half, with chances falling to Daniel Didavi and Maximilian Arnold.
Awarded a penalty with 15 minutes to go, the home side missed the chance to snatch a first win in seven games, as Paul Verhaegh failed to beat Ralf Faehrmann from 12 yards.
They paid a heavy price when Schalke snatched a winner on 86 minutes, Knoche deflecting Breel Embolo’s cross into his own net.
"We played well, but to miss a penalty and concede a goal like that is typical of our current situation," Knoche told Sky. "It's obviously frustrating, and I'm sorry for the team."
At the other end of the table, crisis-stricken Hamburg were trying for a fresh start under new coach Christian Titz, but Kalou’s second-half winner stretched their winless run to 14 games, and they remain on course for a first relegation in their history.
"It seemed like we ran out of bravery in the second half," Titz told Sky. "In the first half, we showed what this team is capable of."
Hamburg started brightly, and took the lead on 25 minutes after Douglas Santos broke away on the counter-attack. At the other end, several smart saves from Julian Pollersbeck kept the lead in tact until half-time.
Hertha finally broke through ten minutes into the second half, Valentino Lazaro turning in Marvin Plattenhardt’s cross to level the scores. Minutes later, Kalou popped up in the box to stab home the winner for Hertha.
"Hamburg started well and had a good first 45 minutes," said Kalou. "We were a stronger in the second half."
Frankfurt up to fourth
Hamburg’s defeat keeps them second from bottom, seven points behind Mainz, who were outclassed in a 3-0 defeat to local rivals Eintracht Frankfurt.
Frankfurt took the lead six minutes in, Kevin-Prince Boateng’s volley slipping through the fingers of goalkeeper Florian Mueller. Luka Jovic then doubled the lead on 22 minutes, before Ante Rebic made it three just before half-time.
Elsewhere, Werder Bremen moved further away from the bottom three with a clinical 3-1 win over Augsburg, while Matthias Ginter saved a late point for Borussia Moenchengladbach in a six-goal thriller with Hoffenheim.
Two strikes from Ishak Belfodil gave Bremen a two-goal lead at half-time, the Algerian firing in a well-angled opener after five minutes, and adding a second minutes before the break.
Rani Khedira pulled a goal back for Augsburg with a powerful header in the second half, but Max Kruse’s curling strike secured victory for Bremen ten minutes from time.
In Moenchengladbach, Benjamin Huebner headed Hoffenheim in front on 13 minutes, before Josip Drmic levelled the scores before half-time. After Andrej Kramaric had restored the lead from the penalty spot, Gladbach equalised again through Lars Stindl on 72 minutes, only for Fabian Grillitsch to fire in Hoffenheim’s third moments later.
With just minutes to play, Ginter swept in a third equaliser to rescue a point for Gladbach.
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: Mar 18, 2018 15:57:09 IST