Hertha Berlin moved up to third thanks to a 2-1 comeback win at home to Mainz, with captain Vedad Ibisevic netting twice before earning a red card. Schalke continued their revival after a shocking start to the season.
Hertha Berlin 2-1 Darmstadt
(Ibisevic 36’, 67' - Seydel 25’)
It was the Vedad Ibisevic show at the Olympic Stadium as the Hertha captain scored both his team’s goals before picking up a second yellow card and earning his marching orders.
Mainz, who had midfielder Jean-Philippe Gbamin dismissed just after the hour for a double caution, took a 25th-minute lead when the ball broke kindly for Bundesliga debutant Aaron Seydel and he finished from close range.
Ibisevic leveled 11 minutes later when he collected a Salomon Kalou pass on the edge of the area and directed a precise show into the bottom corner past Mainz goalkeeper Jonas Lössl.
Ibisevic netted what proved to be the winner in the 67th minute when Lössl saved his initial effort but the ball ricocheted back off the Bosnian’s body and squirmed into the net.
It was his 100th Bundesliga goal, the sixth time a non-German has achieved the feat, and he was given a rousing reception by the Hertha faithful when he was sent off 16 minutes from time.
Claudio Pizarro (Peru), Giovane Elber (Brazil), Robert Lewandowski (Poland), Ailton (Brazil) and Stephane Chapuisat (Switzerland) are the other non-Germans to have netted a century of goals in Germany’s top flight.
Mainz threw everything forward in a frantic finale when both teams could have scored but Hertha held firm to climb above Frankfurt, Cologne, Hoffenheim and Dortmund into third.
They are three points behind second-placed Bayern Munich and six adrift of surprise leaders RB Leipzig.
"It was a huge battle but I think in the end we deserved to win," Hertha coach Pal Dardai told German television.
Schalke 3-1 Darmstadt
(Kolasinac 26’, Choupo-Moting 60’, Schoepf 90’ – Heller 6‘)
Schalke had high hopes for the 2016-17 campaign under new coach Markus Weinzierl but began with five straight defeats.
Sunday’s success was their fifth win in seven outings, lifting them above Mainz to eighth, and suggested their early-season crisis is over.
Darmstadt, who are hovering just about the relegation zone in 15th, took a surprise early lead in Gelsenkirchen when Marcel Heller finished off a swift counter attack after a superb run from Sandro Sirigu.
Schalke were level 20 minutes later when an unmarked Sead Kolasinac heads in from Eric Choupo-Moting’s cross.
Choupo-Moting squandered a chance to make it 2-1 when his 28th-minute penalty was saved by Michael Esser. Aytac Sulu had conceded the spot kick for a clumsy foul on Leon Goretzka.
Choupo-Moting made amends on the hour when he expertly turned a Max Meyer centre past Heller and Alessandro Schöpf made sure of the points with a last-minute strike.
"Of course it's fun when you can see that we are fighting for each other on the pitch," Choupo-Moting told German television.
"Thankfully I was able to make up for the penalty miss and it was quickly forgotten," added the Cameroon international."We showed courage today and we want to keep that going."