Reigning champions Bayern Munich retained their two-point lead at the Bundesliga summit coming from behind to defeat Bavarian neighbors FC Nuremberg 2-1 on Saturday. But northern clubs Hamburg and Bremen remain in hunt.
FC Bayern stays one step ahead of the competition
The latest triumph sees Bayern equal their own record of 13 successive league wins and a maximum 12 points this season has Munich two points in front of Werder Bremen and in-form SV Hamburg. Last season's runners-up Schalke 04 are now four points adrift of the league leaders after needing a late equalizer to salvage a 1-1 draw at Bayer Leverkusen.
The day started promisingly for Bayern's title rivals with Nuremberg taking a shock 19th minute lead courtesy of a free-kick from Argentine defender Javier Pinola. Bayern goalkeeper Oliver Kahn was partially unsighted but will still be angry at allowing the ball to trickle through his legs and hope Germany manager Jürgen Klinsmann did not see the blunder.
Bayern equalized two minutes later through Peruvian international forward Paolo Guerrero, filling in for the injured Roy Makaay, who collected a pass from Lucio before dispatching the ball into the bottom corner.
"Fortunately we equalized quickly and then we controlled the game better and waited for our chances," said Bayern boss Felix Magath. "It was a fortunate win but not undeserved."
Bayern Munich's Michael Ballack, left, of FC Bayern Munich celebrates with his teammate Lucio from Brazil after scoring against FC Nuremberg in their German first division soccer match at the Franken stadium in Nuremberg.
German international captain Michael Ballack produced a giant leap on the hour mark to head the winner and keep Bayern's 100 percent record intact.
Bremen stay second in the standings and warmed up for Wednesday's Champions League duel with Barcelona by thumping Kaiserslautern 5-1. German international forward Miroslav Klose scored twice (44, 78) to take his season's tally to five in four outings.
Hamburg and Bremen stay in the hunt
SV Hamburg lie just behind Bremen on goal difference as they continued their impressive start to the new season with a 3-1 victory over Mainz 05. Raphael Wicky broke the deadlock two minutes before the interval and Iranian international Mehdi Mahdivikia scored for the second successive game on 56 minutes. Netherlands star Rafael van der Vaart wrapped up the points with a 71st minute strike to leave Mainz rooted to the bottom of the table with no points.
Mainz's Mohamed Zidan, right, from Egypt and Hamburg's Guy Demel fight for the control of the ball during a match of German first soccer division between FSV Mainz 05 and Hamburg SV in the Bruchweg stadium in Mainz, southern Germany, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2005.
Schalke fell off the pace at the summit with their draw at Leverkusen, although it could have been much worse. With five minutes remaining Bulgaria international Dimitar Berbatov's strike looked set to secure the points for Bayer but Danish international Soren Larsen struck to steal a point for the visitors.
It left under-pressure Leverkusen manager Klaus Augenthaler cursing more defensive lapses as speculation over his future grows. "At least we played with heart and desire - two things that were missing in the Wolfsburg defeat," declared Augenthaler.
Keepers in form
The game was a superb spectacle with both Schalke and Leverkusen missing penalties in the first 18 minutes. Schalke's Brazilian playmaker Lincoln, back after a four-week suspension for spitting, saw his eighth minute spot-kick parried by Hans-Jorg Butt, while Berbatov also had a penalty saved by Schalke custodian Frank Rost.
Schalke's coach Ralf Rangnick
"The game could have ended 4-4," concluded Schalke chief Ralf Rangnick. "Our goalkeeper Frank Rost deserves a lot of credit for helping us come away with a point."
Elsewhere Italian manager Giovanni Trapattoni is still longing for his first league win at VfB Stuttgart as his side drew 1-1 with Arminia Bielefeld. Jon-Dahl Tomasson put Stuttgart in front after 57 minutes but Roberto Pinto equalized to deny 'Trap' a first Bundesliga win.