Berlin (AFP) – Werder Bremen boosted their survival hopes in Germany’s top flight on Saturday with a 1-0 win behind closed doors at Schalke, who are winless in 11 games and continue to plummet down the Bundesliga table.
Florian Kohfeldt-coached Bremen took a key step towards safety when midfielder Leonardo Bittencourt scored their first-half winner.
«This is a very, very important away win,» said Bremen coach Kohfeldt.
«We have taken seven points from the last three games, but if you look at the table, then you know how badly needed they are — we are still behind.»
Bremen have spent more seasons in the Bundesliga than any other club, but currently sit second from bottom in the table.
However, Saturday’s victory leaves them just three points from guaranteed safety with six games left.
They are two points behind Duesseldorf, who face leaders Bayern Munich later Saturday, in 16th, which carries a relegation play-off at the end of the season.
Bittencourt hit a stunning strike from just outside the box which beat Schalke’s Bayern-bound goalkeeper Alexander Nuebel into the top corner on 32 minutes.
«Even if it was a long-range shot, we absolutely deserved to lead at half-time,» said Kohfeldt after Bittencourt claimed his fourth goal of the season.
Schalke raised their game in the second half but succumbed to their fourth straight defeat and are now 11 league games without a win, piling pressure on head coach David Wagner.
Werder could climb out of the relegation places for the first time since December on Wednesday if they beat Eintracht Frankfurt at home.
«We have a great chance now,» added Kohfeldt.
– Hertha on the rise –
Later, Bayern Munich can go 10 points clear if they beat relegation-threatened Fortuna Duesseldorf at the Allianz Arena.
On Sunday, second-placed Borussia Dortmund hope to bounce back from Tuesday’s 1-0 home defeat to Bayern when they face bottom side Paderborn away.
According to reports, Dortmund’s teenage striker Erling Braut Haaland, who has scored 10 goals in 11 league games, is struggling with a knee injury.
Hertha remain unbeaten with three wins and a draw since Bruno Labbadia took charge during the lockdown after their 2-0 win at home to Augsburg.
Former Manchester City youth midfielder Javairo Dilrosun opened the scoring on 23 minutes at the near-empty Olympic Stadium by grabbing a rebound when team-mate Dodi Lukebakio had a shot parried and beating a defender to fire home.
In added time, Berlin substitute striker Krzysztof Piatek, who netted a penalty in Wednesday’s 2-2 draw at Leipzig, finished a counter-attack to make it 2-0.
Having routed Leverkusen 4-1 away on Tuesday, Wolfsburg crashed to a 2-1 defeat at home to 10-man Eintracht Frankfurt.
Japan midfielder Daichi Kamada scored the winner 10 minutes from time while Frankfurt had replacement midfielder Lucas Torro sent off in the dying stages for a second yellow card.
Frankfurt took the lead when striker Andre Silva converted a penalty on 27 minutes, but Wolfsburg equalised when right-back Kevin Mbabu headed home on 58 minutes.
Hoffenheim are seventh after their 1-0 win at Mainz thanks to Ihlas Bebou who darted into the area, swept past two defenders, and fired home on 43 minutes.
On Friday, Leverkusen went third when Germany midfielder Kai Havertz became the first player in Bundesliga history to score 35 goals before his 21st birthday to seal a 1-0 win at Freiburg.