Bayer 04 Leverkusen moved a step closer to the 1. Bundesliga title with a 2-0 win on Saturday but FC Bayern München could only draw.
A 2-0 win away at VfB Stuttgart has put Leverkusen four points clear of BV Borussia Dortmund at the top of the German table and on target for their first ever championship. Thomas Brdaric put the visitors ahead at the Gottleib-Daimler-Stadion after 40 minutes with a shot from close range, and his striking partner Dimitar Berbitov wrapped up the points moments before the half-time whistle with a fine volley.
An away win at last
Leverkusen were less impressive in the second half but their victory was all but assured once Stuttgart defender Marcelo Bordon had been dismissed after 79 minutes for a second bookable offence. It was the leaders' first away win in four months - a timely boost ahead of their vital visit to RC Deportivo La Coruña in the UEFA Champions League next week.
No joy for Bayern
Bayern's chances, meanwhile, took a blow on Saturday as they were held to a 0-0 draw away at 1. FC Kaiserslautern. The German and European champions had several opportunities to continue their recent good run but failed to take full advantage, even when their hosts had Greek midfield player Dimitrios Grammozis dismissed for a second bookable offence with 12 minutes to go. Indeed they had goalkeeper Oliver Kahn to thank after he saved a 12th-minute penalty from Bayern old boy Mario Basler.
Hertha march on
Bayern are now just two points ahead of in-form Hertha BSC Berlin, whose Brazilian striker Alex Alves scored twice in a 3-0 win at SV Werder Bremen to lift them up to fourth in the table where they are level on points with fifth-placed Kaiserslautern.
Köln make dramatic comeback
In Saturday's other games, rock-bottom 1. FC Köln enhanced their chances of surviving relegation as they came back from two goals down to secure a 4-2 win against FC Hansa Rostock, but FC Nürnberg remain in trouble after they were beaten 1-0 by VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Gloom deepens for St. Pauli
FC St. Pauli are also in deep trouble after a humiliating 4-0 defeat away at FC Energie Cottbus, while in the final game of the day, north German rivals Hamburger SV and VfL Wolfsburg shared the honours in a 1-1 draw at the AOL Arena.
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