Bayer Leverkusen remained in contention for a European qualification spot on Sunday with a 2-0 victory at local rivals Cologne to move to seventh place in the Bundesliga.
Leverkusen had previously scored just three goals during a five-game winless streak, but against Cologne Stefan Kiessling scored in the 66th minute and Patrick Helmes converted a penalty 10 minutes later to secure the victory.
Leverkusen moved to 41 points after 26 games, but they are still four points behind fifth-placed Stuttgart, who occupy the last qualification spot for next season’s Europa League, which replaces the UEFA Cup.
“We had a tough stretch of games behind us, so we are really just happy to have finally won again,” Helmes said. “But we also have a tough stretch of games ahead of us, so we’ll have to see if we can make it to the international [European] places.”
Werder Bremen are all but out of the running for European soccer next season despite Claudio Pizarro’s hat-trick in their 4-1 home victory over Hannover.
“We know the Bundesliga is just about over for us, but we have to continue to play well,” Pizarro said.
Bremen, 10th in the Bundesliga with 35 points, play against Udinese in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup on Thursday.
“This was an important game for us to again show that we can score goals and we need to score in the first leg,” Pizarro said.
Scoring goals has been a major problem for last-placed Karlsruhe, who played out a scoreless draw at home against fellow strugglers Borussia Munchengladbach, who lie in 16th place, the last relegation spot, with 23 points.
“We are not giving up on the first division,” said Karlsruhe coach Edmund Becker, whose team has not scored in their last seven games and have just 18 points.
Wolfsburg lead the Bundesliga after they inflicted a humiliating 5-1 defeat on defending champions Bayern Munich on Saturday and Hertha Berlin lost at home to Dortmund.