Dortmund extend streak, Cologne, Hertha antics continue | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 28.04.2012
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Dortmund extend streak, Cologne, Hertha antics continue

With everything on the line, the two teams still fighting to avoid the drop turn in pathetic efforts. They’re the polar opposites of Dortmund, who are staking a claim for the best-ever season in the Bundesliga.

Dortmund extended their single-season unbeaten streak to 27 in a row, manhandling last placed Kaiserslautern 5-2.

Hosts Lautern actually led in the match, courtesy of an own goal by Felipe Santana. But Dortmund quickly struck back with two first-half goals from Lucas Barrios and one by Mario Götze, who came back from injury to make his first start in 2012.

Lautern pulled one back after the break, but a bit of comically ill-advised dribbling by keeper Tobias Sippel gifted Barrios his hat-trick. Ivan Perisic completed the scoreline.

Dortmund now have a further record in sight. If they win their final match at home against Freiburg, they will set a new best mark for most points in one season.

CL Line-Up Set

Lewis Holtby (left) and Fanol Perdedaj fight for the ball

The Royal Blues are back among Europe's footballing elite

Elsewhere, Bayern tuned-up for their German Cup and Champions League finals with a comfy 2-0 win over Stuttgart. Mario Gomez and Thomas Müller got the goals.

Third-placed Schalke secured the final automatic Champions League spot with a 4-0 thrashing of Hertha Berlin. Spanish superstar Raul picked up one of the goals in his final match in Gelsenkirchen, which was not as close as the score would suggest.

Mönchengladbach were held to a goalless draw by Augsburg, who have now officially escaped relegation. Nonetheless, Stuttgart's loss means the Foals clinch a Champions League qualification spot.

That's a precarious position since it means Gladbach won't know how to plan its budget, and coach Lucien Favre will need to replace both Marco Reus, who's off to Dortmund, and central defender Dante, who announced this week that he's moving to Bayern.

Because they have been out of European competition for so long, the Foals are likely to get a tough qualification opponent, perhaps a team from England, Spain or Italy. So Gladbach's surprise resurgence this season could easily come to a crashing halt this fall.

Europe beckons

Leverkusens Oemer Toprak (left) challenges Hanover's Mohammed Abdellaoue

Leverkusen are back in the hunt for the automatic Europa League spot

Elsewhere, Leverkusen wrapped up a spot in the Europa League after a goal by Stefan Kiessling put them past Hanover 1-0. The factory team also leapfrogged Stuttgart to move into fifth place by one point.

Hanover cling to the seventh and final spot in international competition, but Wolfsburg, who beat Bremen 3-1, are breathing down their necks a lone point behind.

Hanover will fancy their chances, as their final match is at home against last-placed Lautern. Wolfsburg will travel to Stuttgart next week, and Leverkusen have a date in Nuremberg.

Barring a Hanover collapse, Bremen's dream of international competition is over. That added to the bad news received early Saturday that former German national winger Marko Marin is heading to Chelsea next season.

Hoffenheim's European ambitions also suffered a fatal setback, after they went down 3-2 at home against Nuremberg.

In the only match with basically nothing at stake on Satuday, Hamburg and Mainz both failed to score.

Relegation goes down to the wire

Otto Rehhagel can't believe his eyes

Coach Rehhagel needs nothing less than a win next week to survive

In fact, aside from the Europa League spots, the only thing left to be decided is who will go straight down in 17th place and who will qualify for the relegation playoff against the third-best team from division two.

That's after Cologne blew a golden opportunity, going down to Freiburg 4-1. Lukas Podolski nullified an early advantage after the restart, but as so often has been the case this season, the Billy Goats stumbled badly, conceding three goals in the second half.

"The football gods were generous today," Hertha coach Otto Rehhagel said with reference to the Cologne result. "Now we just need to break through the vicious circle and fight hard to finally win a home game."

"Now we have to bundle our energy and keep our nerves," Cologne coach Frank Schäfer remarked. "We still have our fate in our own hands."

Though still two points ahead of Hertha in 16th, Cologne have the worse goal differential and face the daunting prospect of needing a win next week at home against Bayern to guarantee staying up.

Cologne's best hope may well be that Hertha, the second-worst home to in the league, continue their form in the Olympic Stadium and fail to beat Hoffenheim in their season-ender.

Anything short of a victory will send Hertha back down to the second division for the second time in three years and make Germany the only country in Europe without a top-flight team in the capital.

Author: Jefferson Chase
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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