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Borussia Moenchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen both posted big wins on Saturday as the battle for the Bundesliga's third automatic Champions League place intensified.
The battle for third place intensifies in the Bundesliga 
04/04/2015
 

Borussia Moenchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen both posted big wins on Saturday as the battle for the Bundesliga's third automatic Champions League place intensified.


With run-away league leaders at mid-table Borussia Dortmund on Saturday in Germany's 'Der Klassiker' between the teams who have shared the Bundesliga title for the last four years, third-placed Gladbach posted an impressive 4-1 come-back win at Hoffenheim.


With the Bundesliga's top three qualifying automatically for the Champions League and seven games left, Gladbach's win keeps them two-points clear of Leverkusen who posted a 4-0 win over hapless Hamburg, who are on their third coach of the season.


Hosts Hoffenheim took the lead at home to Gladbach when forward Sven Schipplock enjoyed a simple tap-in after a final pass from Brazil striker Roberto Firmino with 17 minutes gone.


But Gladbach proved their mettle with three goals in ten minutes.


First Germany striker Max Kruse drilled home a penalty, then Patrick Herrmann added a second before Brazilian striker Raffael added their third on 36 minutes to make it 3-1 at the break.


Hermann claimed his tenth goal of the season when he netted after a quick thrown on from Kruse with 51 minutes gone.


Leverkusen also underlined their Champions League pedigree by putting Hamburg to the sword.


With the team third from bottom and on course for a first relegation from Germany's top flight, Hamburg sacked Joe Zinnbauer ten days ago, but his successor Peter Knaebel could only watch as his team was thrashed.


Midfielder Gonzalo Castro gave Leverkusen the lead at the BayArena by firing into an empty net after Germany winger Karim Bellarabi had pulled the Hamburg defence apart with only seven minutes gone.


A diving header from Leverkusen striker Stefan Kiessling just before half-time gave Roger Schmidt's Bayer a 2-0 half-time lead before Kiessling added their third after a goal-mouth scramble with the Hamburg defence pulled to pieces on 56 minutes.


Just seven minutes later, Leverkusen added their fourth when Kiessling's pass found Bellarabi to lay the ball off for Castro, who hit the top corner and claimed his second of the game.

Leverkusen host Bayern in the German Cup quarter-final on Wednesday.


Second-placed Wolfsburg remain seven points clear of Gladbach with a 3-1 win at home to bottom VfB Stuttgart.


Swiss midfielder Ricardo Rodriguez converted a penalty and a free-kick either side of half-time before ex-Chelsea winger Andre Schuerrle came off the bench to add their third.


Freiburg find themselves three-points clear of the relegation zone after their 1-0 win at home to Cologne while Hanover dropped to just above the bottom three with a 2-2 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt.


Hanover's Ivory Coast striker Didier Ya Konan rescued his team with a late equaliser, his first for the north German club since his six month sojourn at Saudi Arabian side Al Ittihad 

Source: AFP/ Ryland JAMES
 
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