Kagawa strike early, Hamburg closer to danger zone
BERLIN: JAPAN winger Shinji Kagawa fired defending champions Borussia Dortmund eight points clear at the top of the German league yesterday as his early goal sealed a 1-0 win at home to Werder Bremen.
Kagawa's eighth-minute header put his side on 59 points with second-placed Bayern Munich, on 51, in action on Saturday night at relegation-threatened Hertha Berlin.
The Japan star scored his ninth goal of the season at the 80,720 sold-out Signal Iduna Park as his team earned their ninth win in their last 10 league matches.
Bayern are under pressure now to brush off defeat in their last two away games, but confidence is sky-high among the Bavarians after scoring a remarkable 14 goals in their last two matches.
Munich hammered Hoffenheim 7-1 last Saturday in the Bundesliga, then demolished Basel 7-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday to reach the quarter-finals while Hertha have lost eight of their last nine games.
There was bad news for Hertha even before kick-off as they dropped to 17th, second from bottom, after Freiburg's 3-1 win at Hamburg.
That dragged Thorsten Fink's Hamburg down to 14th and deeper into the looming relegation battle.
Third-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach picked up their first win in four games after a late winner from Igor de Camargo sealed their 2-1 victory at Bayer Leverkusen.
Dortmund-bound Marco Reus, who will join the defending champions next season, scored one and created the second as victory allowed Gladbach to draw level on points with Munich.
The attacking midfielder showed great finishing to put his side ahead on seven minutes, before the hosts hit back when ex-Germany striker Stefan Kiessling equalised with 15 minutes left.
But Reus's mazy run on 88 minutes put de Camarago clear to round Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno and score the winner.
Lucien Favre's Gladbach host Bayern on Wednesday in the semi-finals of the German Cup with Borussia chasing their third win over Munich this season after home and away victories in the league.
Germany's remaining Europa League teams, Schalke 04 and Hanover 96, are in action on Sunday when the Royal Blues are at bottom side Kaiserslautern and Hanover host Cologne. AFP