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Bundesliga: Matchday 15 brings few surprises

Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund drew 1-1 in their first clash of the season, which secures Bayern an 11-point advantage over their biggest rivals. Leverkusen remains in second place, while Schalke loses momentum.

Bayern had an 11-point advantage over their biggest rivals going into the game, but the players were aware that they had lost the last four league meetings. In other words, Bayern's last Bundesliga victory over Dortmund was as long ago as February 13, 2010.

Dortmundcoach Jürgen Klopp packed his midfield, effectively neutralizing Franck Ribery and Philipp Lahm on Bayern's flanks and isolating forward Mario Mandzukic.

To add injury to insult, from the 37th minute, the Bavarians had to make do without strapping defender Holger Badstuber, who twisted his knee badly in a challenge on Mario Götze.

Dortmund ventured forward at the start of the second half, but that pressure didn't last, and Bayern began imposing themselves on Dortmund more and more, particularly down the right through the irrepressible Ribery. Just a minute after a long cross caused a goalmouth scramble and a penalty appeal from the hosts, Toni Kroos received the ball by the area, and beat two defenders by taking it onto his left foot and slotting it past Roman Weidenfäller into the corner.

Then Kroos was culpable when Dortmund's equalizer came in the 74th minute - thanks to an elementary marking mistake at a corner. Götze spanked an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner.

The remainder of the game was marked by relentless Bayern pressure. It took sensational saves from Weidenfäller to keep Dortmund level at the death. Though honor was probably not satisfied for Bayern, the result was clearly better for them in the title race

Another draw: Schalke - Mönchengladbach

Fußball Bundesliga 15. Spieltag: FC Schalke 04 - Borussia Mönchengladbach am 01.12.2012 in der VELTINS-Arena in Gelsenkirchen (Nordrhein-Westfalen). Der Schalker Torschütze Julian Draxler (l) und Roman Neustädter jubeln über das Tor zum 1:1. Foto: Kevin Kurek/dpa (Achtung Hinweis zur Bildnutzung! Die DFL erlaubt die Weiterverwertung von maximal 15 Fotos (keine Sequenzbilder und keine videoähnlichen Fotostrecken) während des Spiels (einschließlich Halbzeit) aus dem Stadion und/oder vom Spiel im Internet und in Online-Medien. Uneingeschränkt gestattet ist die Weiterleitung digitalisierter Aufnahmen bereits während des Spiels ausschließlich zur internen redaktionellen Bearbeitung (z. B. via Bilddatenbanken).) +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
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Schalke's Julian Draxler (left) and Roman Neustädter were happy to have scored at least one goal

A turgid 1-1 draw between Schalke and Mönchengladbach on Saturday in Gelsenkirchen only came to life in the second half, when Gladbach took the lead through Igor de Camargo, capitalizing on an opportunistic ball forward from Thorben Marx.

The goal stirred a jaded Schalke from their slumbers. It took until the 86th minute for the home side to get into gear. Substitute Teemu Pukki burst through the guests' defense down the left, and crossed across the face of goal where Julian Draxler was on hand to poke home.

But Schalke’s recent slump - drawn two and lost two - is now threatening to take them out of the precious Champions League places.

Leverkusen do enough

Fußball 1. Bundesliga 15. Spieltag: Bayer Leverkusen - 1. FC Nürnberg am 01.12.2012 in der BayArena in Leverkusen (Nordhrein-Westfalen). Leverkusens Stefan Kießling jubelt nach dem Spiel. Foto: Marius Becker/dpa - (Achtung! Hinweis zur Bildnutzung! Die DFL erlaubt die Weiterverwertung von maximal 15 Fotos (keine Sequenzbilder und keine Fotostrecken) während des Spiels (einschließlich Halbzeit) aus dem Stadion und/oder vom Spiel im Internet und in Online-Medien. Uneingeschränkt gestattet ist die Weiterleitung digitalisierter Aufnahmen bereits während des Spiels ausschließlich zur internen redaktionellen Bearbeitung (z.B. via Bilddatenbanken). +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Leverkusen striker Stefan Kiessling gives thumbs up for one goal

Second-place Leverkusen got the lead against Nuremberg in the 37th minute on Saturday, slightly against the run of play, when Stefan Kiessling, unmarked and offside in the center of the penalty area, was played in by Andre Schürrle, spun and fired home into the bottom corner

That proved enough to secure the 1-0 win for the newly annointed second-place team in the league, ensuring they will stay above Dortmund until next weekend. Nuremberg, meanwhile, slipped down to 14th place.

Augsburg1 – Freiburg 1

Augsburg lifted themselves off the bottom of the table with an excellent 1-1 draw at home to highflying Freiburg. The hosts got a vital early goal through Tobias Werner, who broke clear of the struggling Swabian defense in the ninth minute, and converted his one-on-one with the goalkeeper efficiently enough.

The game became somewhat aggressive as Freiburg tried to force an equalizer, which they got in the 28th minute. Max Kruse rolled the ball across to Jan Rosenthal, whose long-distance shot was brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Mohamed Amsif - but he could do nothing to stop the follow-up from midfielder Jonathan Schmid.

The result lifted Freiburg to ninth.

Mainz score only double

Mainz got an early goal in their 2-1 victory over Hannover. In the 10th minute, Shawn Parker's 17-meter shot was tipped onto the post by Ron-Robert Zieler, only for Nicolai Müller to leap on the rebound and poke home into the empty net.

But their guests equalized 18 minutes later, when Christian Schulz took advantage of an unfortunate deflection from the Mainz defense, and managed to flip the ball into the net while falling.

The Mainz goalkeeper, Christian Wetklo, took exception to some infringement in the build up to that goal, and received a yellow card for protesting that too vehemently with the referee in the aftermath. In the second half, the hapless goalie then reflexively cleared the ball with his hand outside the area, simultaneously denying a goal scoring opportunity. That meant an automatic red card - and Mainz down to 10.

But that did not stop them from getting the winner through Adam Szalai just a couple of minutes from time. A cross was brilliantly nodded in by the Hungarian, who registered his eighth goal of the season, and boosted his side to sixth in the table.

Stuttgart beats Greuther Fürth

Fußball Bundesliga 15. Spieltag: SpVgg Greuther Fürth - VfB Stuttgart am 01.12.2012 in der Trolli Arena in Fürth (Bayern). Der Stuttgarter Shinji Okazaki (M) jubelt mit seinem Mannschaftskollegen über seinen Treffer zum 0:1. Foto: Daniel Karmann/dpa (Achtung Hinweis zur Bildnutzung! Die DFL erlaubt die Weiterverwertung von maximal 15 Fotos (keine Sequenzbilder und keine videoähnlichen Fotostrecken) während des Spiels (einschließlich Halbzeit) aus dem Stadion und/oder vom Spiel im Internet und in Online-Medien. Uneingeschränkt gestattet ist die Weiterleitung digitalisierter Aufnahmen bereits während des Spiels ausschließlich zur internen redaktionellen Bearbeitung (z. B. via Bilddatenbanken).) +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Stuttgart had every reason to celebrate their one goal by Shinji Okazaki

Stuttgart were taking on a very aggressive Greuther Fürth side who are still yet to win a game at home. Despite the hosts' physical approach and a couple of desperate chances, it was Stuttgart who took the lead on the stroke of halftime.

With his back to goal, Vedad Ibisevic was clumsily brought down right in the corner of the penalty area. The Stuttgart striker took the spot-kick himself, but fired directly at goalkeeper Wolfgang Hesl - only to watch as Shinji Okazaki headed the ball into the gaping net.

The result was vital to Stuttgart, putting them in seventh place, and within touching distance of the European spots.

Hoffenheim continues freefall

Werder Bremen experienced that an encounter with Hoffenheim's porous defense under Markus Babbel is the ideal confidence booster for any struggling midtable side. The hosts were 2-0 down inside half an hour, both goals down to defensive disorganization.

Fußball Bundesliga 15. Spieltag: TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - SV Werder Bremen am 02.12.2012 in Sinsheim (Baden-Württemberg) in der Rhein-Neckar-Arena. Hoffenheims Trainer Markus Babbel verzieht vor dem Spiel das Gesicht. Foto: Uwe Anspach/dpa (Achtung Hinweis zur Bildnutzung! Die DFL erlaubt die Weiterverwertung von maximal 15 Fotos (keine Sequenzbilder und keine videoähnlichen Fotostrecken) während des Spiels (einschließlich Halbzeit) aus dem Stadion und/oder vom Spiel im Internet und in Online-Medien. Uneingeschränkt gestattet ist die Weiterleitung digitalisierter Aufnahmen bereits während des Spiels ausschließlich zur internen redaktionellen Bearbeitung (z. B. via Bilddatenbanken).) +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

After yet another defeat Hoffenheim coach Markus Babbel has little chance of keeping his job

After the first two goals Hoffenheim seemed to collapse, with their own fans already whistling in anger. Hoffenheim came out of the interval with new intent. It was all too little too late, however. The result lifted Bremen to eighth, and rooted Hoffenheim to 16th place.

Wolfsburg draw with HSV

Sunday's other match saw a thrilling 1-1 draw between two teams slowly rebuilding their seasons after poor starts. Wolfsburg, still languishing in 15th after losing to Mönchengladbach in midweek, hosted Hamburg, who had climbed to 12th thanks to a win over Schalke - despite being without their new superstar, Rafael van der Vaart.

The Dutch international was missing against Wolfsburg once again - in fact his torn muscle is expected to keep him out for another two weeks - but HSV's remaining attackers seemed determined to demonstrate that he's not as necessary as everyone imagines.

Playing a good old-fashioned two-striker formation, HSV took the lead in the 26th minute thanks to some deft interplay between the attacking pair.

The goal opened up the game, and Wolfsburg went on the attack. For the rest of the first half, virtually everything they created went through midfielder Diego. Nevertheless the best chances came from set pieces, which were countered by excellent saves from Rene Adler.

The second half saw good chances at both, but the Wolves got the equalizer in the 68th minute through defender Simon Kjaer. The HSV goalkeeper, fouled in the build-up and now under relentless pressure, let off steam at the referee, and was rewarded with a yellow card.

The 1- 1 result meant that Hamburg leapt to ninth, while Wolfsburg remained in 15th.

Düsseldorf smash Frankfurt

Fußball Bundesliga 15. Spieltag: Fortuna Düsseldorf - Eintracht Frankfurt am 30.11.2012 in der Esprit-Arena in Düsseldorf (Nordrhein-Westfalen). Düsseldorfs Nando Rafael, Stefan Reisinger, Adam Bodzek und Johannes van den Bergh (l-r) jubeln über Rafaels Treffer zum 3:0. Foto: Jonas Güttler/dpa (Achtung Hinweis zur Bildnutzung! Die DFL erlaubt die Weiterverwertung von maximal 15 Fotos (keine Sequenzbilder und keine videoähnlichen Fotostrecken) während des Spiels (einschließlich Halbzeit) aus dem Stadion und/oder vom Spiel im Internet und in Online-Medien. Uneingeschränkt gestattet ist die Weiterleitung digitalisierter Aufnahmen bereits während des Spiels ausschließlich zur internen redaktionellen Bearbeitung (z. B. via Bilddatenbanken)

Düsseldorf players were jubilant after their impressive victory on Friday night

And in Friday’s fixture Fortuna Düsseldorf cracked four goals past fellow Bundesliga new boys Frankfurt, securing three somewhat surprising home points.

The game was a lifeless and rather even affair for the first half an hour, until Karim Matmour made Bundesliga history - for all the wrong reasons. He became the first ever Bundesliga player to be dismissed twice in seven days. After his sending off last weekend against Schalke, and a suspension served in the midweek matches, the Frankfurt forward picked up his second yellow card in just the 34th minute. The decision to book him for a gentle shove from behind was perhaps a little harsh, but then Matmour's decision to make the contact in the middle of the park with a yellow to his name was quite questionable as well.

In the end Düsseldorf scored two in the first half and two more in the second against Frankfurt, wrapping up a comfortable home win and moving 10 points clear of the two automatic relegation spots many expected them to occupy this season. Frankfurt, meanwhile, have won just one of their last seven in the Bundesliga after their dream start to the season.