Mon, Mar 23, 2015 - Page 18 News List

Clever Bellarabi lifts Leverkusen to third in Bundesliga

Reuters, BERLIN

Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s Karim Bellarabi warms up prior to their Bundesliga match against Schalke 04 at the Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

A smart finish by Karim Bellarabi helped Bayer 04 Leverkusen record their fourth Bundesliga victory in a row on Saturday, a 1-0 win at Schalke 04 lifting them to third in the table.

Germany international Bellarabi scored his 11th league goal of the campaign in the 35th minute when he cut inside and cleverly drilled the ball in from a tight angle.

“I think everyone thought I would cut the ball back into the middle, but I just decided to go for it,” he told reporters. “We knew if we won today we would be exactly where we would want to be in the table.”

Leverkusen have 45 points, one ahead of Borussia Moenchengladbach and six in front of Schalke in the race for a Champions League spot.

“It’s fantastic to be that focused… The last few weeks have shown that we are resilient,” coach Roger Schmidt said.

Schalke were more aggressive in the second half following the introduction of Kevin-Prince Boateng, who twice went close to an equalizer.

Leverkusen were lucky not to concede a penalty after a blatant Roberto Hilbert handball before Bellarabi missed a good opportunity when he charged through and fired wide with only goalkeeper Timon Wellenreuther to beat in the 83rd minute.

Schalke have won just one of their last six matches to leave Roberto di Matteo’s team stuck in fifth place on 39 points.

Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang struck twice as last season’s runners-up won 3-2 at Hanover 96 to claim their first victory in three Bundesliga games.

Dortmund moved up to 10th on 33 points, five behind Augsburg who are sixth and occupy the last automatic Europa League qualifying position.

The visitors went ahead with their first goal in four matches when Aubameyang netted his 11th league goal of the season in the 19th minute.

Lars Stindl leveled from close range before Hanover went down to 10 men early in the second half when Leonardo Bittencourt received his marching orders for a second booking.

Shinji Kagawa tapped Leverkusen back in front before setting up Gabon international Aubameyang to make it 3-1 with a diving header.

Stindl was again on target in the 82nd minute and Dortmund held on despite a nervous finale.

Bottom club VfB Stuttgart came back from a goal down to stun Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 thanks to a Daniel Ginczck double, their first victory in 10 games pulling them within two points of the safety zone.

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