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Bundesliga: Leverkusen cement second as Schalke slip

Leverkusen solidified their second place in the Bundesliga with a 1-0 home win over Nuremberg, while Schalke could only draw at home to Mönchengladbach, leaving the Royal Blues with no win in four games.

Bayer Leverkusen - 1. FC Nuremberg (Photo: Marius Becker/dpa)

Bayer Leverkusen gegen 1. FC Nuremberg

The Bundesliga concluded its "English week" (as the German pundits call it when an extra round of league games is played midweek) with a frenetic Saturday of football. Though there was no evidence of exhaustion in the five tough afternoon games, there were also few signs of attacking urgency, with only one of the teams in action managing to score twice.

A turgid 1-1 draw between Schalke and Mönchengladbach in Gelsenkirchen only came to life in the second half, when Gladbach took the lead through Igor de Camargo, capitalizing on an opportunistic ball forward from Thorben Marx.

The goal stirred a jaded Schalke from their slumbers. Their recent slump - drawn two and lost two - is now threatening to take them out of the precious Champions League places.

Atsuto Uchida of Schalke is seen after the Bundesliga match of Hamburger SV and FC Schalke 04 at Imtech Arena on November 27, 2012 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Schalke extended their winless run to four games

Despite plenty of effort from the Royal Blues attackers - particularly Lewis Holtby - there was little precision in front of goal on Saturday. It took until the 86th minute for the home side to get into gear. Substitute Teemu Pukki burst through the guests' defense down the left, and crossed across the face of goal where Julian Draxler was on hand to poke home.

Leverkusen do enough

Second-place Leverkusen got the lead against Nuremberg in the 37th minute, slightly against the run of play, when Stefan Kiessling, unmarked and offside in the center of the penalty area, was played in by Andre Schürrle, spun and fired home into the bottom corner.

That proved enough to secure the 1-0 win for the newly annointed second-place team in the league, ensuring they will stay above Dortmund until next weekend. Nuremberg, meanwhile, slipped down to 14th place.

Their Bavarian rivals Augsburg lifted themselves off the bottom of the table with an excellent 1-1 draw at home to highflying Freiburg. The hosts got a vital early goal through Tobias Werner, who broke clear of the struggling Swabian defense in the ninth minute, and converted his one-on-one with the goalkeeper efficiently enough.

The game became somewhat aggressive as Freiburg tried to force an equalizer, which they got in the 28th minute. Max Kruse rolled the ball across to Jan Rosenthal, whose long-distance shot was brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Mohamed Amsif - but he could do nothing to stop the follow-up from midfielder Jonathan Schmid. The result lifted Freiburg to ninth.

Mainz score only double

Mainz got an early goal in their 2-1 victory over Hannover. In the 10th minute, Shawn Parker's 17-meter shot was tipped onto the post by Ron-Robert Zieler, only for Nicolai Müller to leap on the rebound and poke home into the empty net.

But their guests equalized 18 minutes later, when Christian Schulz took advantage of an unfortunate deflection from the Mainz defense, and managed to flip the ball into the net while falling.

[35505565] SpVgg Greuther Fürth - VfB Stuttgart Fußball Bundesliga 15. Spieltag: SpVgg Greuther Fürth - VfB Stuttgart am 01.12.2012 in der Trolli Arena in Fürth (Bayern). Der Stuttgarter Shinji Okazaki (M) jubelt mit seinen Kollegen über seinen Treffer zum 0:1. Foto: Daniel Karmann/dpa (Achtung Hinweis zur Bildnutzung! Die DFL erlaubt die Weiterverwertung von maximal 15 Fotos (keine Sequenzbilder und keine videoähnlichen Fotostrecken) während des Spiels (einschließlich Halbzeit) aus dem Stadion und/oder vom Spiel im Internet und in Online-Medien. Uneingeschränkt gestattet ist die Weiterleitung digitalisierter Aufnahmen bereits während des Spiels ausschließlich zur internen redaktionellen Bearbeitung (z. B. via Bilddatenbanken).) +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Stuttgart needed a penalty rebound to down Fürth

The Mainz goalkeeper, Christian Wetklo, took exception to some infringement in the build up to that goal, and received a yellow card for protesting that too vehemently with the referee in the aftermath. In the second half, the hapless goalie then reflexively cleared the ball with his hand outside the area, simultaneously denying a goal scoring opportunity. That meant an automatic red card - and Mainz down to 10.

But that did not stop them from getting the winner through Adam Szalai just a couple of minutes from time. A cross was brilliantly nodded in by the Hungarian, who registered his eighth goal of the season, and boosted his side to sixth in the table.

‎Stuttgart were taking on a very aggressive Greuther Fürth side who are still yet to win a game at home. Despite the hosts' physical approach and a couple of desperate chances, it was Stuttgart who took the lead on the stroke of halftime.

With his back to goal, Vedad Ibisevic was clumsily brought down right in the corner of the penalty area. The Stuttgart striker took the spot-kick himself, but fired directly at goalkeeper Wolfgang Hesl - only to watch as Shinji Okazaki headed the ball into the gaping net.

The result was vital to Stuttgart. Suffering after last week's defeat to local rivals Freiburg, it put the southwestern side in seventh place, and within touching distance of the European spots.

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