By Mark Bennett
Michael Ballack's early goal gave FC Bayern München a victory against German champions Werder Bremen that gives some measure of revenge for conceding the Bundesliga title at the Olympiastadion last season.
Bremen's 3-1 win in Munich proved the decisive result of 2003/04, but Ballack struck after seven minutes today and the champions are now seven points behind both Bayern and FC Schalke 04, who defeated VfL Bochum 1848. Bayern, who also won 2-1 at Bremen earlier this season, lost striker Roy Makaay to a thigh injury late in the second half.
Schalke, second on goal difference, took all three points from the Ruhr Valley derby at lowly VfL Bochum 1848 thanks to strikes from their Brazilians. Ailton gave the visitors the lead on 30 minutes and Lincoln sealed Schalke's 2-0 win 13 minutes from the final whistle.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen must overturn a 3-1 deficit against Liverpool FC on Wednesday to stay in the UEFA Champions League, and their hopes of playing in that competition next season were hit by a 1-0 loss at Hamburger SV. Daniel van Buyten scored the only goal of the game on 21 minutes to move Hamburg into fifth place, two ahead of Leverkusen.
VfB Stuttgart are up to fourth place, within a point of Bremen, with a 2-1 win against DSC Arminia Bielefeld. Zvonimir Soldo and Cacau gave Stuttgart the lead with Isaac Boakye closing the gap for the visitors. Hertha BSC Berlin can move back ahead of Stuttgart and Hamburg on Sunday if they defeat 1. FC Kaiserslautern.
In the battle for survival in the Bundesliga, 1. FSV Mainz 05 took three vital points in their match against SC Freiburg. Having been crushed 7-0 by Bayern in the German Cup on Wednesday, Freiburg were on the wrong end of another disappointing result and were beaten 5-0. FC Hansa Rostock took full advantage and won 1-0 against Hannover 96 to leave Freiburg bottom of the table.
Mainz's win leaves Bochum five points adrift in the third relegation place behind 1. FC Nürnberg, who play BV Borussia Dortmund on Sunday. VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach also moved away from danger as they beat VfL Wolfsburg 1-0.
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