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Schalke Suffers While Bayern Blooms

The opening coin toss was about the only thing Schalke won in its 4-1 loss to Hertha Berlin Saturday, brining Schalke's chance at grabbing the German title from Bayern Munich to a screeching halt.

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Schalke goalie Frank Rost watches his championship dreams fade

Hertha Berlin trainer Falko Götz's players proved his pre-match prophecy about a decisive win over second place Schalke 04 true with a 4-1 victory. The win brings Berlin's dream of a Champions League berth a little closer, while Schalke continues to feel third-placed Stuttgart bearing down, just a point behind the Royal Blues.

Five weeks ago Schalke were three points ahead of Bayern at the summit but four defeats in five games now sees them nine points adrift of their arch rivals.

Bundesliga 30. Spieltag Hertha BSC Berlin gegen FC Schalke 04

With two goals and an assist, Berlin's Marcelinho, left, nearly turned the match into a one-man show

Berlin's Brazilian international Marcelinho continued to impress by scoring two of Hertha's four goals, including one from the penalty spot, and posting an additional assist. The two goals put Marcelinho at the top of the Bundesliga scorer table with 17 goals and 13 assists.

Few highlights in Berlin

Scoring in the German capital opened in the fifth minute in what would overall prove to be a dreary match. It was Yildiray Bastürk who took a pass from Marcelinho past Schalke defender Tomasz Waldoch and goalie Frank Rost, whose left foot was able to change the shot's trajectory but not its destination.

Though Ebbe Sand scored on a Schalke corner kick in the 17th minute after the ball bounced through the Berlin defense, it was Sand's teammate Christian Poulsen who caused the most excitement on the Schalke side. He was sent off in the 21st minute after he collected two yellow cards inside of five minutes.

The match could have ended shortly after Poulsen was sent off, as the sold-out crowd in Berlin's Olympic Stadium were treated to only a handful of exciting scenes.

Bundesliga 30. Spieltag Hertha BSC Berlin gegen FC Schalke 04

Berlin's Nando Rafael celebrates his goal that put Hertha up 3-1

The crowd did get excited when Hertha striker Nando Rafael chipped a beautiful lob over Rost, putting Berlin ahead 3-1 and when Marcelinho capped the scoring in the 59th minute.

Munich nearly assured of championship

In other German league action, Bayern Munich have all but mathematically sealed their spot as Bundesliga champs, needing just one more win from their remaining four matches this season.

A mere three points separate Munich from a 19th German championship after a 3-1 triumph over ten-man VfL Bochum helped Felix Magath's side power nine points clear at the summit.

Munich's Peruvian star Claudio Pizarro putting the hosts in front after just nine minutes.

Dutch international Roy Makaay struck a goal-bound shot and compatriot van Duijnhoven saved brilliantly with his left hand but he was well outside of his penalty area and subsequently red-carded. After seeing the keeper sent off, the rest of the Bochum squad self-destructed.

Bundesliga 30. Spieltag FC Bayern München gegen VfL Bochum

Munich's midfielder Michael Ballack has plenty to be happy about

German international Michael Ballack doubled Munich's lead after 26 minutes but Bochum pulled one back in the 51st minute with a Filip Tapalovic header.

It was Makaay who quashed any fears of a comeback with a ruthless finish on 63 minutes as Bayern cruised to victory.

Stuttgart edges forward

Third-placed Stuttgart could have leapfrogged Schalke into second but played out a scoreless home draw with VfL Wolfsburg at the Gottlieb-Daimler Stadium.

Reigning German champions Werder Bremen can also move to within three points of Schalke providing they can win at Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday.

Relegation zone excitement

Bundesliga 30. Spieltag Arminia Bielefeld gegen SC Freiburg

Freiburg's keeper Richard Golz, top, fights for the ball, but his team will still be playing in the second division next season

Though the top of the table is already clear, there's still a lot to be decided at the bottom.

It's clear that Freiburg, who have won a miserly three games all season, are on their way to the second division after at 3-1 defeat at Arminia Bielefeld. But it's still unclear which other two teams will join them.

Last year's second division team Mainz 05 improved its chances at staying in the top flight with a win over Hanover 96.

SV Hamburg moved level on points with fifth place Bremen courtesy of a 3-0 victory over local rivals Hansa Rostock, putting Rostock's chances at Bundesliga action next season at risk.

Borussia Monchengladbach plays at FC Nuremberg in the Bundesliga's second Sunday match.

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