Hosts Borussia Dortmund warmed up for their looming UEFA Champions League clash at home to Shakhtar Donetsk with a 3-1 win over Hannover 96 to stay second in the Bundesliga on Saturday.
With runaway league leaders Bayern Munich at relegation-threatened TSG 1899 Hoffenheim yesterday, Dortmund’s victory trimmed the Bavarians’ lead to 14 points.
“We started well and we were really up for it. After we went 3-1 up, the game was over, but it was an attacking spectacle and a good match to watch,” Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp said.
It was also a perfect result ahead of tomorrow’s UEFA Champions League round-of-16 second-leg clash with Shakhtar after a 2-2 draw in Donetsk two weeks ago.
Poland striker Robert Lewandowski, who had only been allowed to play on Friday after the German Football Association (DFB) reduced his three-match ban, scored twice in the first half as the hosts raced into a 2-0 lead after 21 minutes.
Norway international striker Mohammed Abdellaoue pulled a goal back for Hannover on 40 minutes after a mistake in the Dortmund defense, but Lewandowski’s backup, Julian Schieber, made sure of the win when he drilled his shot home on 72 minutes.
“That was clearly a deserved win from Dortmund,” said Hannover coach Mirko Slomka, whose team were trounced 5-1 at Dortmund in the DFB Pokal in December in their previous meeting. “We wanted a different result after the cup defeat, but we didn’t get a grip on the game.”
Bayer 04 Leverkusen stay third, just a point behind Dortmund, after scoring twice in the final eight minutes to come from behind for a 2-1 win at home to VfB Stuttgart.
“That was damned important. Stuttgart stood very deep and made it hard for us,” said Stefan Kiessling, who along with Lewandowski is the Bundesliga’s top scorer with 16 goals.
The guests took a 12th-minute lead when striker Vedad Ibisevic converted a penalty, but Kiessling slotted an 82nd-minute penalty, before midfielder Lars Bender headed the winner four minutes later.
Schalke 04, who host Dortmund in next Saturday’s Ruhr derby, are up to sixth after they beat VfL Wolfsburg 4-1, with 19-year-old midfielder Julian Draxler involved in the first three goals.
Schalke are still in Champions League contention after their round-of-16, first-leg 2-2 draw at Galatasaray with the return in Gelsenkirchen on Tuesday next week.
Draxler opened the scoring on 33 minutes, then hit the post with Wolfsburg goalkeeper Diego Benaglio beaten, before scoring the third despite the attention of four defenders on 63 minutes.
US midfielder Jermaine Jones picked up his fifth yellow card, meaning he will miss Saturday’s Dortmund clash, before Draxler then set up the fourth on 79 minutes for Peru international Jefferson Farfan to slam his shot home.
Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar hit the fourth on 86 minutes for his first goal in eight games.
Werder Bremen suffered their third straight defeat, dropping to 13th, after they fell 1-0 at home to Augsburg, who remain third from bottom, while Nuremberg moved up to 12th with a 1-1 draw at home to SC Freiburg.
Hamburg SV drop to seventh after their 1-1 draw at home to bottom side SpVgg Greuther Furth.