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Hamburg Close on Champions League

While not even a Bayern draw against lowly Cologne will make the German championship more interesting, Hamburg are on course for the Champions League after a 2-0 win against a 10-man Schalke 04.

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Kevin Kuranyi (left) couldn't help get Schalke past Hamburg on Sunday

Hamburg moved back into second, at the expense of Werder Bremen, and now look certain to secure one of the three Champions League spots on offer with Schalke in fourth.

"When you play against ten men for so long you expect to win," Hamburg manager Thomas Doll said. "That was a giant step towards the Champions League."

Schalke were left to rue the sending off of their young Brazilian defender Rafinha after he lashed out at Rafael van der Vaart on 28 minutes.

FC Schalke 04 vs. Hamburger SV

Sergej Barbarez and the rest of the Hamburg team were a step above Schalke

"Rafa should not do that, but you should not go down like a bag of potatoes either," Schalke team manager Andreas Müller said.

Dutch international van der Vaart picked himself up to open the coring in the 57th minute with a brilliant free-kick.

Brazilian striker Ailton, on loan at Hamburg from Turkish side Besiktas, then came back to haunt Schalke who sold him in the summer.

Substituted into the match, Ailton struck in the 80th minute after using his pace to power away from the Schalke defense.

Kahn the April fool in Cologne

Hamburg, who last appeared in the Champions League back in 2001, are now seven points behind Munich after the Bavarian giants drew 2-2 with FC Cologne.

It was April fool's day and the joke was on German international goalkeeper Oliver Kahn who produced a major howler to allow Cologne a share of the spoils.

The 36-year-old Kahn shrugged off a hip injury to face Cologne but may wish he hadn't bothered after allowing Albert Streit's speculative shot to squirm under his body to restore Cologne's lead at 2-1, surprising the Cologne scorer as much as everyone watching.

FC Bayern München vs. 1. FC Köln

A goal from Roy Makaay, right, got Bayern one point in Cologne

Kahn, who was replaced at half-time by Michael Rensing, will hope Germany manager Jürgen Klinsmann missed his gaffe as he bids to prove he is Germany's number one ahead of this summer's World Cup finals.

"I was helpless for the first goal, but I was at fault for the second goal and have to hold my hands up," Kahn said, before making a rare admission of guilt. "But as a goalkeeper you know there will be errors like that from time to time."

Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, Kahn's rival for the number one jersey at the World Cup, will no doubt watch the replays with a pleased grin.

Crowd unhappy over Ballack departure

Fortunately, Kahn has field players capable of getting him out of trouble -- Dutch international Roy Makaay equalized shortly before half-time.

Bayern have seen their lead cut to seven points but, barring an almighty collapse in their final six games, Felix Magath's team will be collecting their 20th domestic title in May.

Kein guter Tag

A 2-2 draw and the crowd's whistles made it a hard day for Ballack

German international captain Michael Ballack has been a driving force behind the title bid but the player, who looks set to join English champions Chelsea on a free transfer in the summer, was jeered by the home Bayern fans after a poor display.

"It is always a problem when you have a player who is likely to be playing somewhere else in the near future," Bayern coach Magath said. "But it is not Michael Ballack's fault that the game finished 2-2."

Klose continues scoring

While Kahn and Ballack had an afternoon to forget their international teammate Miroslav Klose continued to do no wrong.

Bremen striker Klose scored a 70th minute penalty to help Bremen to a vital 1-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

It was Klose's 20th goal of a prolific season and helped Bremen consolidate third position, three points behind Hamburg but four points clear of Schalke.

"His goal was worth its weight in gold," said Bremen sporting director Klaus Allofs.

"We are in a Champions League place now and that was the target before next weekend's match against Bayern."

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