Borussia Mönchengladbach finally brought their eight-game winless run to an end with a 1-0 success at home to Mainz. Leverkusen climbed towards the European qualification places when they beat 10-man Schalke 1-0.
Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-0 Mainz
Gladbach’s last victory in Germany’s top flight came against strugglers Ingolstadt at the end of September, since when they had lost five and drawn three, ratcheting up the pressure on coach Andre Schubert.
After a goalless opening half, when Mainz created the only two genuine chances, the home fans made their displeasure plain.
The whistling seemed to galvanize the players and Gladbach came out stronger in the second period, helped by the introduction of lively forward Thorgan Hazard in place of Andre Hahn.
Gladbach got the goal they so desperately sought when Lars Stindl’s effort at a corner was deflected into Christensen’s path and he diverted the ball in off Jonas Lössl in the Mainz goal.
Christensen had earlier made a fine sliding tackle to prevent Karim Onisiwo getting a shot away when the Mainz forward was clean through.
There was controversy two minutes from time when Mainz forward Pablo De Blasis had a goal disallowed.
Television replays showed no reason why his effort should have been ruled out and a frustrating evening for the visitors ended on a sour note when Jean-Philippe Gbamin earned a second yellow card and was sent off in the final minute.
Gladbach, hammered 4-0 at Barcelona in the Champions League midweek, are 12th on 16 points, a point behind 11th-placed Mainz.
Schalke 0-1 Bayer Leverkusen
The final game of Matchday 14 in Gelsenkirchen provided an early moment of drama when Schalke were reduced to 10 men in only the fourth minute.
Sead Kolasinac played a careless pass back to team mate Naldo, which ended up sending Leverkusen forward Javier Hernandez clean through on goal.
Naldo appeared to clip Hernandez as he tried to recover ground and the referee showed the distraught Brazilian a straight red card.
It was the fastest dismissal for any Schalke player in the Bundesliga.
Leverkusen struggled to take control of the game even with an extra man and Schalke mounted a series of dangerous counter attacks, with Ukraine winger Yevhen Konoplyanka causing particular problems for the visiting defense.
At the other end, Kiessling had a decent opening but hooked his shot across the face of the goal.
The Schalke fans were already furious with referee Deniz Aytekin but he drew more howls of outrage when Abdul Rahman Baba went down in the area two minutes before the break and the official waved away penalty appeals.
It was more of the same in the second half and Konoplyanka skewed a shot wide when he perhaps should have picked out a team mate after another fast break on the hour.
Leverkusen, who are through to the Champions League last 16, huffed and puffed searching for a way through, while Europa League participants Schalke failed to finish off any of their breakaways.
There was still time for more drama and Kiessling won it for the visitors with a minute left.
Hakan Calhanoglu curled a free kick to the far post and the tall striker, inexplicably left unmarked by the home defense, sent a fine header back across Ralf Fährmann into the corner of the net.
Leverkusen have 20 points in eighth and Schalke are 10th on 17 points.