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Bundesliga

Hoffenheim recover, Bremen cannot exit relegation scrap

Werder Bremen have squandered a two-goal lead against Hoffenheim and a chance to definitively extricate themselves from the relegation battle. Super-sub Sven Schipplock bagged a brace to recover a point for the visitors.

The match could scarcely have started better for the northern German hosts in their relegation dogfight. Bremen were handed a lifeline barely a minute into the match, when Aaron Hunt won a penalty on the edge of the area. The German stepped up to take his own spot kick and continued his perfect record from 11 yards for the season so far, slotting it into the bottom corner. Hoffenheim perhaps had reason to question whether the foul took place in their area.

Two loanees - the other lynchpins of Bremen's attack after Hunt - combined to stretch the lead later in the first half. Nils Petersen showed plenty of determination and profited from a lot of luck on the right flank, then crossed to Chelsea's Kevin de Bruyne. The Belgian fired the ball back across goal with his right foot.

Hoffenheim came out hungry in the second half, however, and Bremen seemed content to defend their lead. Soon after the break, coach Thomas Schaaf could be seen imploring his Bremen boys to push higher up the pitch and stop letting the guests attack.

The Bremen dam only broke in the 85th minute, when substitute striker Sven Schipplock beat Werder goalie Sebastian Mielitz in a one-on-one. One minute into stoppage time, Schipplock scored a second, salvaging a point for his 17th-placed side and preventing Bremen from putting some real air between themselves and the drop zone.

Kiessling makes Leverkusen history

Bayer Leverkusen guaranteed themselves a top-three finish in the Bundesliga on Saturday with a 2-0 win over struggling Nuremberg.

Stefan Kiessling rattles home a penalty for Bayer Leverkusen vs Nuremberg (Photo: dpa)

Kiessling's penalty sealed a spot in Leverkusen lore

Striker Stefan Kiessling, who had a pretty poor game, also secured a spot in the club's record books. Kiessling scored Leverkusen's second goal from the penalty spot; it was his 23rd goal of the current Bundesliga campaign, and it put him one clear of former German international Ulf Kirsten, who twice netted 22 for the pharmaceuticals.

Ömer Toprak scored Leverkusen's opener from close in, courtesy of a Gonzalo Castro set piece.

Kiessling won Leverkusen a second penalty late in the game and might have bagged a 24th Bundesliga goal. But Sidney Sam instead insisted on taking the spot kick, only to crack it against the aluminum from 11 yards.

Still winless at home, and already relegated, Greuther Fürth scored a 2-0 road win in Stuttgart as a consolation prize at least for their traveling supporters. Both strikes came in the second period, an own goal from Gotoku Sakai and an easy finish for Ilir Azemi - the 21-year-old's first of the entire season. Stuttgart finished the match with 10 men, after Antonio Rüdiger was sent off for a foul away from the ball late in the second half.

Nicolai Müller celebrates a goal for Mainz against Hannover

Müller nearly had a hat-trick, but for his right hand

Frankfurt beat relegation-threatened Düsseldorf by a somewhat flattering 3-1 margin. Captain Alex Meier hit a brace, including one spectacular curler from a ridiculous angle late in the game to ward off a strong Düsseldorf showing in the second half. From midfield, Meier has bagged an improbable 15 league goals for Frankfurt this season.

Honors even in Hannover

Hannover and Mainz played to a 2-2 draw, with Mainz's Nicolai Müller perhaps the player of the game. Müller opened the scoring with a tasty dribble and long shot, and he tied the game up again in the 79th minute after Hannover had put a pair past Christian Wetklo in the Mainz goal.

But for an eagle-eyed official spotting a handball by Müller, the attacking midfielder would have scored a match-winning hat-trick, having found the net on three occasions in total.

It was a good day for Hannover striker Mame Biram Diouf, who ended his goal drought to put the hosts 2-1 ahead in the second half. He had not scored since February. Hannover will probably take a point, considering that they concluded the game without midfielder Christian Schulz, who was sent off for a second bookable offense after halftime.