Closer to league crown
DEFENDING champions Borussia Dortmund put one hand on the German league title yesterday as their 2-1 win at Ruhr valley rivals Schalke left them nine points clear at the top of the table.
With second-placed Bayern Munich hosting Mainz in a late match yesterday, Juergen Klopp's side took the opportunity to extend their lead, having beaten the Bavarians 1-0 in Dortmund on Wednesday.
With three games left after this weekend, Dortmund are in pole position to win their second consecutive title, but the visitors had to come from behind in Gelsenkirchen.
Schalke took the lead when Peru forward Jefferson Farfan blasted his shot home from the edge of the penalty area with just nine minutes on the clock, the ball deflecting off Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa.
But the champions roared back as Poland defender Lukasz Piszczek drilled home the equaliser from a seemingly impossible angle on 17 minutes.
Dortmund captain Sebastian Kehl then scored the crucial winner on 63 minutes from a corner when Schalke defender Christoph Metzelder inadvertently headed down into Kehl's path and the visiting skipper fired home.
Dortmund face fourth-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach, bottom side Kaiserslautern and Freiburg before the league finishes on May 5.
After Mainz, Bayern face Werder Bremen, Stuttgart and Cologne in their title run-in.
Kaiserslautern have no more than a mathematical chance of avoiding relegation after they were beaten 2-0 at home by Nuremberg, which kept them nine points from safety.
Ten-man Hertha Berlin remain second from bottom despite picking up a point in a dramatic 3-3 draw at Bayer Leverkusen, after they scored three goals in 15 second-half minutes.
The hosts went 2-0 up through attacking midfielder Andre Schuerrle on 44 minutes and striker Stefan Kiessling on 51 minutes.
Berlin pulled a goal back when Germany Under-21 striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga scored with a header on 62 minutes, but Hertha were reduced to 10 men when captain Levan Kobiashvili brought down Eren Derdiyok in the area.
Hertha goalkeeper Thomas Kraft palmed Simon Rolfes' penalty attempt onto the post on 66 minutes and away from danger then five minutes later it was 2-2 as Turkey striker Tunay Torun equalised.
The 21-year-old grabbed his second on 77 minutes after Brazil striker Raffael counter-attacked and squared for his forward partner to drill home his shot, before Kiessling equalised on 83 minutes.
Cologne, who are at Moenchengladbach today, are in the third relegation place, and now four points behind 15th-placed Augsburg, who poached a 2-1 win at Wolfsburg.
Hamburg also gave themselves a fighting chance of staying up with a 1-0 win at home to Hanover.
Stuttgart are fifth in the league and challenging for a Champions League place after their 4-1 hammering of Bremen on Friday night extended their run without defeat to nine games. AFP