Germany striker Stefan Kiessling scored twice to help Bayer Leverkusen go third in the Bundesliga on Saturday.
Leverkusen sneaked into third place thanks to their 3-1 win over bottom side Borussia Munchengladbach.
First-half goals by Kiessling put Leverkusen into a 2-0 lead at halftime and they never looked back, as his international teammate Patrick Helmes added a strike early in the second half.
But Gladbach’s teenagers managed a consolation goal when Germany midfielder Marko Marin fired in a free-kick that 18-year-old Tony Jantschke, making his Bundesliga debut, headed home to make it 3-1.
“That was an important victory,” Leverkusen boss Bruno Labbadia said. “In the Bundesliga, you have to fight hard against every team you come up against. Gladbach made life hard for us and we had to work hard for every scrap of territory, millimeter by millimeter. We did that and we are back in the hunt for the league title now.”
Hertha Berlin, who had won their previous three straight Bundesliga games, were beaten 1-0 at Schalke 04 to drop to fourth and yield third to Leverkusen after Gerald Asamoah scored a second-half goal for the Royal Blues.
Greece striker Nikos Liberopoulos scored two first-half goals, equalizing with a penalty and adding a header to help lift Eintracht Frankfurt up to 11th after their 4-0 win over VfL Bochum.
And two goals in two second-half minutes from midfielder Markus Steinhoefer and defender Marco Russ sealed the rout.
New VfB Stuttgart coach Markus Babbel has now won his first two games in charge after taking over from Armin Veh as his side strolled to a 3-0 win at Energie Cottbus thanks to an opening first-half goal from Roberto Hilbert.
And Stuttgart’s Czech Republic midfielder Jan Simak made the result safe with some ice-cool finishing in the second half, before Sami Khedira also scored to make the result safe at 3-0.
“We began very well and managed to control the game thanks to the early goal,” Babbel said. “But Cottbus got stronger as the game went on and we rode our luck at times. The second goal on 63 minutes gave us some security and it settled the nerves.”
The defeat leaves Cottbus just above the relegation zone, while Stuttgart move up to eighth place.
There was more frustration for struggling Werder Bremen who were beaten 1-0 at Karlsruhe after Stefan Buck fired home off Bremen goalkeeper Tim Wiese in the game’s dying stages.
And adding insult to injury in injury time, Bremen were reduced to 10 men when former Chelsea striker Claudio Pizarro was shown a straight red for striking his marker Martin Stoll.
The defeat drops Bremen to ninth in the table and is hardly the ideal preparation for the visit of Inter tomorrow in the Champions League.
Mid-table Arminia Bielefeld and Borussia Dortmund took a point each as they ground out a goalless draw.