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Sports

Augsburg extend Hamburg slump, Gladbach upset Schalke

In Sunday's late match, Gladbach squeeked by a disappointing Schalke. Earlier, tiny Augsburg put the hurt on reeling giants Hamburg, who are now staring their first-ever Bundesliga relegation straight in the face.

Hamburg came into the match knowing that a win would take them four points clear of second-to-last Nuremberg, and within two of Stuttgart and absolute safety. Augsburg were looking to keep their slim Europa League hopes alive.

And the hosts wasted no time putting their mark on this match. After six minutes, right back Paul Verhaegh overran German national Marcel Jansen, just returning from injury, and crossed in for Halil Altintop. The veteran striker staked Augsburg to a welcome lead.

That was no accident, as Augsburg showed after a half-hour with a goal that was nearly a carbon copy of the first. This time, it was mercurial winger André Hahn providing the assist for Altintop.

Hahn got on the scorers list himself in the 43rd minute after firing a hard shot directly at Hamburg keeper René Adler, which the former Germany number one somehow managed to punch into his own goal. It was a sure candidate for the end-of-season bloopers reel and a potent symbol of Hamburg's disastrous state at the moment.

The Northern Germans did grab one back just before the half-time break. Heiko Westermann just got his scalp to an expert, long-distance free kick by midfield wizard Hakan Calhanoglu.

But Hamburg refused to grab the lifeline. Augsburg had the better scoring opportunities in the second half, but there were no more goals.

"If defender Heiko Westermann is the most dangerous player up front for us, then we're not doing enough," Hamburg coach Mirko Slomka said after the final whistle.

The 3-1 defeat means Hamburg remain mired in the bottom three. There is little left to do for the one team to compete in all 51 Bundesliga seasons thus far than to try to save themselves via the end-of-season playoff. Augsburg stay a very reputable eighth.

Gladbach take down Schalke

Schalke versus Gladbach

Gladbach were too much for Schalke

In Sunday's late match, a plucky Mönchengladbach side pulled off a 1-0 away win against Schalke. Both keepers were in fine form for this match, but there was nothing Schalke's Ralf Fährmann could do to keep out a supersonic blast by Patrick Herrmann in the 35th minute.

Schalke ultimately got off more shots on goal, but Gladbach won 55 percent of their challenges, so one goal proved enough. Schalke were disadvantaged by a tonsil infection suffered by top striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who only appeared as a late substitute. The 1-0 win was Gladbach's first away win against Schalke since 1992.

More interesting than the match itself was the effect the result had on the table. Dortmund have now clinched second place, and third-placed Schalke's advantage over Leverkusen has shrunk to three points.

"We'll get the points necessary to achieve our goal in the end," Schalke coach Jens Keller promised after the match.

Barring the near impossible, sixth-placed Gladbach have locked down a berth in next season's Europa League. And if they can make up a three-point deficit to Leverkusen, the Foals could even qualify for the Champions League.

"I think we took a giant step in that direction," Herrmann said in his post-match interview.

Schalke face Freiburg and Nuremberg in their final two matches. Gladbach can look forward to Mainz and Wolfsburg.

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