Bremen's thrashing of Nuremberg and a last-gasp draw on Schalke's part against Bayern thrust Werder to the top of the Bundesliga.
Three times was a charm for Bremen's Klose against Nuremberg
Just a few weeks ago, fans, players, coaches and managers around Germany were fearing the worst -- a Bayern Munich runaway. The league's nightmare didn't come true, however. Hamburg defeated their rivals on the seventh match day and after nine games, there is a new leader -- Werder Bremen.
The champions from 2003-04 thrashed Nuremberg 6-2 and thanks to a Munich draw at Schalke, and Hamburg's loss to Wolfsburg, Bremen found themselves at the top of the Bundesliga standings ahead of Bayern based on a better goal difference.
"Those are results that we aren't unhappy with," said Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf.
Bremen's Croatian forward Ivan Klasnic has eight goals so far this season
German international Miroslav Klose was a one-man wrecking crew against the south Germans from Nuremberg, scoring a first-half hat trick to seal the game in the first 45 minutes. The three goals put Klose at the top of the league's goalscorers with ten strikes. Klose's potent partner, Croatian international Ivan Klasnic, found the net two times and midfielder Tim Borowski scored the sixth goal for the Bundesliga's most powerful offense with 27 goals.
Emotional draw for Schalke
Bayern Munich had been hoping for their first victory in six tries at the Arena AufSchalke. The champions' dream was being fulfilled for 93 minutes. Roque Santa Cruz put the Bavarians on top in the 19th minute thanks to a very questionable no-call by referee Michael Weiner.
Bayern then did everything possible in the second-half to let Schalke back into the game. They still almost came away with three points -- until the 93rd minute. Weiner, who denied a penalty kick for the hosts earlier, was again in the spotlight and gave a penalty to Schalke on a very generous call three minutes after regulation. Danish striker Sören Larsen snatched the ball away from teammate Lincoln, converted and 62,000 Schalke supporters erupted in joy.
Schalke's Danish Sören Larsen (l) would draw the foul and convert the penalty kick to save a draw for Schalke against Bayern Munich
"That wasn't a penalty," was Bayern coach Felix Magath's clear judgment but he admitted that his side had done little in the second-half to seal the victory. Nevertheless, Munich broke a five-game losing streak at Schalke. Larsen's late heroics helped Schalke to remain the only Bundesliga club without a loss this season, but are still five points behind the leaders.
Frustrated Hamburg lose for first time
Dutch international Rafael van der Vaart has been the focal point of Hamburg's rise to second-place in the Bundesliga after eight weeks. Coolly, he had scored five times and assisted on six further strikes. The club of the 70's was again impressive. Going back to last season, Hamburg SV had gone 19 matches without a defeat but that came to an end when Wolfsburg beat the hosts 1-0.
Kaiserslautern's Halil Altintop (l) leaves Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller without a chance in scoring the equalizer
The league's fans, sometimes forced to suffer through tedious goalless matches, were treated to 26 goals on Saturday. In Kaiserslautern, Halil Altintop and Ebi Smolarek both scored a hat trick as the hosts came from a two-goal deficit to draw with Dortmund. The supporters of the Red Devils vented their frustration with their team's poor league start by remaining outside the stadium the first five minutes of the match and could only be happy that Turkish striker Altintop, like Klose with ten goals to his credit, found the net as successfully as he did for his national squad against Germany last weekend.
Bayer Leverkusen hired a new coach this week, Michael Skibbe. The move, frequently one that management hopes will shake a squad out of complacency, didn't work. Mainz played a strong second-half to win 3-1 as the crisis for Leverkusen continues. Skibbe may have his hands full in turning around the fate of the club.
Berlin humiliated in Bielefeld
Leverkusen's Clemens Fritz (l) tries his best to get around Mainz 05's Michael Thurk. Thurk would score as Mainz won 3-1
One of the league's presumed title contenders Berlin were caught unawares at the Schüco Arena in Bielefeld as the capital city club suffered a deserved 3-0 defeat against one of the league's "dwarves." Marcio Borges and Heiko Westermann celebrated their first goals in the Bundesliga in a game that Berlin coach Falko Götz said was lost in the first 45 minutes.
Mönchengladbach had surprisingly zoomed up to sixth-place after a shaky season start. For 89 minutes, coach Horst Köppel's team was poised to improve their position even more but a late own-goal by Jeff Strasser gave them only a draw at Stuttgart. Despite the defender's fatal goal, Gladbach could move up a place in the standings.