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Bayern lurks as Hoffenheim falls at Hertha
by Ian Plenderleith, November 10th, 2008 7AM
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[GERMANY] Bayer Leverkusen went top of the Bundesliga on goal difference as Hoffenheim lost in Berlin, but Bayern Munich is lurking one point behind in third place after winning the weekend's big game at Schalke 04. U.S. midfielder Michael Bradley played through as Borussia Moenchengladbach picked up three points at struggling Bielefeld.

Schalke and Bayern flew out of the blocks with Luca Toni scoring after three minutes before Peruvian forward Jefferson Farfan equalized just two minutes later. Before halftime, Franck Ribery had restored the Bayern lead at 2-1, and that's how it stayed throughout a moribund second half. "We want to claim top spot as quickly as possible," said Bayern coach Juergen Klinsmann. "If we keep picking up points, it's only a question of time." Schalke coach Fred Rutten said his team "played some good soccer in the first half, and created a lot of chances. But Bayern's efficiency was super. We were lacking that efficiency, and you can only win if you score goals."

Hertha Berlin recovered from its 5-1 defeat at Bremen last weekend when Ukrainian striker Andrey Voronin scored the only goal of the game against high-flying Hoffenheim, ending the latter's five-game winning streak. "We played at maybe 70 percent of our capacity," said Hoffenheim coach Ralf Rangnick, "but I'm not going to be too harsh on my boys, they're not machines. I don't care about first place, I'm just annoyed that we lost three points."

Leverkusen meanwhile threw away the chance to go two points clear at the top when it gave up a 3-0 lead at Karslruhe. Goals from Patrick Helmes, Stefan Kiessling and Michal Kadlec saw Bayer race ahead after just 24 minutes, but replies from Antonio da Silva before the interval (a deflected free kick), and Tim Sebastian and Alexander Iashvili after it, allowed lowly Karlsruhe to snatch a point and break its run of five defeats on the trot. "My troops fought with passion," said proud Karlsruhe coach Edmund Becker, "and they were rewarded with the 3-3 result." Leverkusen's Bruno Labbadia lauded Karlsruhe for "never giving up. Up until 0-3 we did everything right. But then we lost the tactical discipline that we needed. So for me sharing the points was just."

Hamburg kept in touch with the front-runners with a 2-1 home win over Borussia Dortmund on first-half goals from Mladen Petric and Ivica Olic, both getting their fourth of the season. Dortmund's U.S. defender Neven Subotic played through, and had a shot turned on to the crossbar by Hamburg keeper Frank Rost. Hamburg Coach Martin Jol conceded that Dortmund was "clearly the better team in the second half," but declared himself "content" with the final result. His counterpart Juergen Klopp said that "for all we invested, the return was too low. We didn't play badly, but lacked concentration at certain points."

Borussia Moenchengladbach moved out of the bottom three after a 2-0 road win at fellow strugglers Arminia Bielefeld, with young German international Marko Marin scoring twice. Hannover, for whom U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo played through, lost 2-1 at Cologne and is one spot above Moenchengladbach in 13th.

Bremen played a rare 0-0 tie, away at Bochum, while revived Eintracht Frankfurt was held 2-2 at home by VfB Stuttgart -- Nikos Liberopoulos scored a brace to put Frankfurt 2-0 up, but Stuttgart leveled late through headers from Martin Lanig and Mario Gomez, his sixth of the season. Bottom-placed Cottbus lost 3-0 at Wolfsburg on a hat-trick from Brazilian Grafite, bringing his season's tally to eight.

Goals scored: 25 in nine games (2.78 per game)


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