Matchday 24 on Wednesday night was a seven-game bonanza. Claudio Pizarro proved he keeps getting better with age, while Mönchengladbach left Stuttgart with a headache. Schalke and Hoffenheim were also left smiling.
Leverkusen 1-4 Werder Bremen
(Djilobodji 69' o.g. - Bartels 5', Pizzaro 55', 65' pen., 82')
Like a fine red wine, 37-year-old Claudio Pizarro left Leverkusen dizzy on Wednesday night with a classy hat-trick. The result hands Werder Bremen their first league win in five games, while Leverkusen's lousy domestic life continues.
Fin Bartels' drive went through Bernd Leno to give Werder the lead and it was one they deservedly held onto throughout a first half in which Leverkusen struggled. Irritated, the home side couldn't settle. Claudio Pizarro's superb dink didn't help, nor did his penalty ten minutes afterwards. A bizarre header into his own net from Papy Djilobodji handed Leverkusen some hope, but it seems without Roger Schmidt on the sideline, Bayer are hopeless. Pizarro took his Bundesliga tally for Werder to 99 with a strong header eight minutes from time, leaving Leverkusen feeling like it was the German Cup all over again.
To make matters worse for the home side, Chicharito picked up his fifth yellow card, keeping him out of the game against Augsburg on the weekend.
Borussia Mönchengladbach 4-0 Stuttgart
(Hazard 16', Raffael 60', Herrmann 68', Großkreutz 90' o.g.)
Stuttgart's successful run well and truly came to an end on Wednesday as Gladbach handed them their second consecutive defeat. Fabian Johnson continued his rich vein of form assisting Thorgan Hazard for a tap-in to open the scoring. The Belgian was denied a second by a fantastic reflex save from Przemyslaw Tyton, but in the second half the Polish goalkeeper ended the contest with a mistake of his own. Failing to gather the ball after a misunderstanding with Christian Gentner, Tyton was out of position and Raffael fired into the empty net. With Stuttgart all but beaten, Patrick Herrmann added a well-taken third within 20 seconds of coming off the bench. The embarrassment was complete when Kevin Großkreutz inadvertently sent the ball into his own net.
Huntelaar's offside goal proved a turning point in Gelsenkirchen as Schalke sneaked a win over Hamburg
Schalke 3-2 Hamburg
(Meyer 37', Huntelaar 65', Schöpf 77' - Müller 4', Kacar 90+2')
Schalke took advantage of Leverkusen's slip, edging out Hamburg at the Veltins Arena. Roman Neustädter's misjudgement let in Nicolai Müller before Schalke could even find their feet, but the home side showed the kind of character that has been missing in recent weeks to bounce back. Younes Belhanda's volley was kept out superbly by Rene Adler before Dennis Aogo fired over. Having been denied a clear penalty, Schalke then found an equalizer when Max Meyer sent a rocket into the far corner. Rattled, Hamburg captain Johan Djourou lost his head and picked up a second yellow, handicapping the visitors for the second half.
Eventually, the home side took advantage. Hamburg failed to clear a corner and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who was narrowly offside, looped a header over the out-rushing Adler for the lead. Alessandro Schöpf fired home a deflected third to decide the game, but Hamburg will feel aggrieved Huntelaar's goal stood.
Hoffenheim 2-1 Augsburg
(Volland 25', Uth 81' - Verhaegh 40' pen.)
Like last week, Hoffenheim started better than their opposition and took the lead, Kevin Volland tapping in his first goal since matchday eight. Despite pushing for a second, Hoffenheim couldn't hold onto the lead (just like last week). Referee Guido Winkmann harshly deemed Niklas Süle to have handballed inside the box, leaving Paul Verhaegh the simple task of scoring from the spot.
The home side pushed to re-take the lead. Pavel Kaderabek saw his header tipped over and Mark Uth's effort hit the post, but this time Julian Nagelsmann's men were not to be denied. A superb cross from Andrej Kamaric was rifled home by Uth. Augsburg nearly levelled again, but Caiuby couldn't get his effort on target.
Hertha Berlin 2-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
(Weiser 65', Kalou 78)
Had Vladimir Darida beeen sent off in the first half for a professional foul, things might have ended differently for Frankfurt. He wasn't and after a lot of back and forth, Mitchell Weiser curled in a beautiful strike off the bar before Salomon Kalou added his 12th of the season to keep Hertha three points clear in third and looking strong contenders for a European place.