Mon, Nov 20, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Schalke 04 move top as Stuttgart stumble


Stuttgart's Pavel Pardo, right, tackles Munich's Mark van Bommel during the German first division soccer match between Bayern Munich and VfB Stuttgart at the Allianz Arena in Munich on Saturday.


Schalke 04 were the big winners on a high scoring Bundesliga Saturday as they moved to the top of the table with a 4-2 victory at Energie Cottbus.

VfB Stuttgart, who went into their match at Bayern Munich leading the table, slumped to a 2-1 defeat, while Werder Bremen, who were second, were held to a 2-2 draw at Alemannia Aachen.

In Cottbus, Schalke were two up after just 15 minutes through goals by Hamit Altintop and Kevin Kuranyi, but allowed the home side back into the game with two goals within the space of three minutes.

Schalke's 20-year-old goalkeeper Manuel Neuer -- whose promotion into the team at the expense of experienced Frank Rost a few weeks ago caused a minor crisis at the club -- gifted Sergiu Radu a goal in the 28th minute, but he could do nothing as Radu scored his second just three minutes later.

Christian Pander scored a third for Schalke early in the second half with a direct freekick before Levan Kobiashvili put the game beyond the home side six minutes from the end to take Schalke to the top of the table.

Schalke coach Mirko Slomka, who has been under pressure even though his side is well positioned, said that he criticized his side during the break.

"We were in control early in the game and then allowed Cottbus back into the match. That was not necessary and I told them that we needed to take control again. I am pleased that we did that," he said.

In Munich current Bundesliga top scorer Mario Gomez gave Stuttgart an early lead, but Roy Makaay and Claudio Pizarro turned the deficit around to take Bayern to 23 points -- one behind Stuttgart and three behind Schalke.

Munich coach Felix Magath, said that he had predicted before the game that his side would win. "Stuttgart is a very good side and I am happy to have won the game. I think our fans will forgive us winning by just a goal against a good side like Stuttgart."

Stuttgart's coach Armin Veh, who had promised not to cut his hair until his side lost again, said that he could at least gain some comfort from the defeat as he could now go to the hairdresser.

"That is the only good thing. I am disappointed, but Bayern is a good side and to lose to them is not an embarrassment," he said.

Werder Bremen, who drew 2-2 at Alemannia Aachen are second on 24 points. Sascha Roesler opened the scoring for Aachen in the 34th minute, but their lead lasted just three minutes into the second half as Per Mertesacker equalized for the Champions League participants.

German international Jan Schlaudraff put Aachen ahead again with a delicate chip after dribbling past three defenders in the 68th minute. World Cup top scorer Miroslav Klose found another equalizing goal for Bremen 11 minutes from the end.

Hertha Berlin won 2-1 at Borussia Dortmund, with goals by Andreas Schmidt and Gilberto, while Alexander Frei scored for the home side.

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