Werder Bremen battled with 10 men to earn a 2-2 draw at home against Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Bundesliga on Tuesday, while Cologne moved closer to relegation with a 4-0 loss at FSV Mainz 05.
A header by defender Naldo secured the draw for Bremen, who had fallen behind to a pair of goals by Mike Hanke.
In other matches on Tuesday, surging VfB Stuttgart won 3-1 at Augsburg and SC Freiburg beat Hertha BSC Berlin 2-1 to all but make sure of remaining in the top flight, while leaving Berlin virtually doomed.
In Bremen, Markus Rosenberg capitalized on a mistake by the visitors’ defender Dante to put the home side ahead after 18 minutes, but the hosts lost defender Sebastian Boenisch to a red card in the 28th minute when he was sent off for bringing down Patrick Herrmann, who was racing alone toward Werder’s goal.
Rosenberg chipped the ball past Moenchengladbach goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen after Dante’s mistimed attempt to clear.
In a fast-moving match, there was plenty of action in front of both goals.
Mike Hanke tied the score in the 52nd minute, controlling the ball with his left and slotting home with his right. In the 66th minute, Marco Reus did most of the work before finding Hanke for a perfect finish to a counterattack.
Ter Stegen made a good save from Claudio Pizarro, who squandered another big chance before Naldo saved the draw for Bremen with a header from a free-kick in the 74th minute.
With only one win in their last eight matches, Moenchengladbach remained fourth and in the running for a place in next season’s Champions League.
Bremen are sixth, four points behind Stuttgart, who rallied to win in Augsburg.
Nando Rafael converted a penalty in the fifth minute for Augsburg, but Stuttgart dominated the match and they got goals from Serdar Tasci, Martin Harnik and Vedad Ibisevic to cruise home.
Cologne and Hertha were given some hope with Augsburg’s defeat, but both clubs face an uphill struggle to stay in the top tier.
Cologne sit 16th, which means a relegation playoff against the third-placed team from the second division, and they are two points ahead of next-to-last Berlin.
Cologne also had a scare when their star and Germany forward Lukas Podolski was struck in the face by a coin thrown from the crowd in the 29th minute as he prepared to take a corner.
Podolski was left with a mark under his right eye and continued to play, but he could not prevent his team’s heavy defeat.
Mainz got goals from Eugen Polanski, Mohamed Zidan, Nicolai Mueller and Adam Szalai. Szalai also earned the penalty that was converted by Polanski.
In Berlin, defender Roman Hubnik put the ball into his own net, then lost possession before Sebastian Freis doubled the lead for Freiburg. Hubnik scored himself in the 81st minute, before going down with an ankle injury.