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Bundesliga Top Five Continue Jostle as Klose Sidelined for Two Months

Bundesliga leaders Hertha Berlin maintained their position as the club's nearest four rivals kept up the fight for top spot. But victory for second-placed Bayern Munich came at the price of star striker Miroslav Klose.

Hamburg's Joris Mathijsen, left, and Ivica Olic celebrate their side's first goal against Cottbus

Hamburg edged closer to top spot after downing Energie Cottbus

SV Hamburg enjoyed a 2-0 victory over Energie Cottbus Sunday to move up to fourth spot in the Bundesliga, while in the day's other game VfB Stuttgart were hammered 4-0 by Werder Bremen.

An Ivica Olic header after 32 minutes and a free kick from Piotr Trochowski seven minutes later were enough to ensure victory for Martin Jol's Hamburg, moving them to 45 points along with Bayern Munich and Vfl Wolfsburg, but in fourth place on goal difference.

The three clubs remain four points adrift of league leaders Hertha Berlin, which defeated Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 on Saturday. Bayern beat VfL Bochum 3-0, while Wolfsburg enjoyed a 4-3 victory over Schalke 04 on Friday.

Petric out

"That was a routine victory but it was pretty important," said Jol. "We lacked pace in the second half, but I am happy."

Trochowski replaced Mladen Petric after just half an hour after the Croatian forward pulled a muscle. The injury puts Petric out of action for at least two weeks, meaning he will miss next Thursday's UEFA Cup clash with Turkish giants Galatasaray.

Hamburg took the lead shortly after Trochowski's introduction when Olic got his head on the end of a Mickael Taveres cross. Germany international Trochowski made it 2-0 with a free kick that left Cottbus goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel with no chance.

Olic, who is to move to Bayern in the summer, had a chance to make it 3-0 in the second half but Ivica Iliev cleared off the line.

Bremen dominate

Stuttgart's Roberto Hilbert, right, challenges for the ball against Bremen's Diego, left

Bremen stayed in tenth place despite smashing Stuttgart over the weekend

Bremen meanwhile put a recent controversy over transfer dealings behind them to easily account for Stuttgart.

Brazilian playmaker Diego opened the scoring from a free kick on 34 minutes before turning provider on 53 minutes, back-heeling the ball into the path of Claudio Pizarro, who rifled home from the edge of the area.

The midfielder was also involved in the Bremen's third goal on 64 minutes, setting up Markus Rosenberg, who completed the rout 10 minutes later with a second goal.

European hopes

The loss is a blow to Stuttgart's hopes of qualifying for the next European season. Markus Babbel's side stay on 39 points, four points behind fifth-placed Hoffenheim. Bremen meanwhile continue to sit in a disappointing 10th.

"We showed nothing today, that was really disappointing, simply too little," said Stuttgart's Thomas Hitzlsperger.

Cottbus remain firmly mired in the relegation zone after the defeat to Hamburg, three points clear of bottom club SC Karlsruhe and two behind Borussia Moenchengladbach, who beat Cologne 4-2 on Saturday.

Also Saturday, Hanover 96 came from two goals down twice to draw 4-4 with Borussia Dortmund, and Arminia Bielefeld won 1-0 at Karlsruhe.

Two months on the sidelines

Bayern and Germany striker Miroslav Klose

Bayern and Germany striker Miroslav Klose will be out for two months, his club says

Also to come from the weekend's clashes was news that Bayern and Germany striker Miroslav Klose could be sidelined for up to two months after an ankle injury sustained during his team's victory over Bochum, Bayern's general manager Uli Hoeness told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily on Monday.

The paper quoted Hoeness on its Web site as saying that Klose was due to undergo surgery later Monday "and will then miss six to eight weeks."

Klose will not only miss upcoming Bundesliga matches but also Munich's European Champions League quarterfinals and two World Cup qualifiers for Germany.

The 30-year-old damaged ligaments in his right ankle in Bayern's defeat of Bochum when he stepped into a small hole on the pitch.

The injury added to Munich's attacking woes with Italian striker Luca Toni and French midfielder Franck Ribery sidelined and Landon Donovan back in the US after Bayern decided against a transfer. Fourth-choice frontman Lukas Podolski is Munich's only striker at the moment.

But Hoeness said that Ribery and Toni could both return for the weekend's league match against bottom club SC Karlsruhe.

Bundesliga defense

Also over the weekend, former Germany coach and national team player Rudi Voeller rejected criticism of the Bundesliga by current national team coach Joachim Loew.

"This statement that all 20 English clubs are better and quicker than Bundesliga clubs is not right. Though it is still a question of money," the boss of Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen said in a television interview.

"I have to contradict him entirely on this point," Voeller said. "I think we are comparable to the leagues in England, Spain and Italy, which operate under different financial conditions.

"Of course we cannot keep up with the top four English clubs, which are in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Over there, soccer is played a little faster than in the Bundesliga," Voeller said.

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