Mario Goetze opened the scoring with a
Defending champions Borussia Dortmund moved back up to third in the Bundesliga on Sunday with a 3-1 win at strugglers Hoffenheim while neighbours Schalke 04 sacked coach Huub Stevens.
Goals by Mario Goetze, Kevin Grosskreutz and Robert Lewandowski gave Dortmund the three points, but Borussia remain 12 points behind leaders Bayern Munich, who drew 1-1 with Moenchengladbach on Friday.
Germany star Goetze, 20, opened the scoring with a superb strike from the left side of the penalty area on 26 minutes, but a defensive lapse allowed Hoffenheim to equalise when striker Sven Schipplock tapped home nine minutes later.
The champions made sure of the points when Grosskreutz tapped home on 58 minutes after some fine play from Germany’s Marco Reus before Lewandowski fired home from a tight angle on 66 minutes.
“That was a spirited performance, we managed to get our heads out of the crap,” said coach Jurgen Klopp.
“You could see we were lulled into a false sense of security in the first half.”
This was Hoffenheim’s sixth straight defeat leaving them 16th in the league, seven points from safety having sacked coach Markus Babbel on December 3.
Earlier, Schalke announced they had parted company with Dutch coach Stevens after Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat to Freiburg left the Royal Blues with two points from their last six league games.
Former VfB Stuttgart coach Jens Keller will take over for the rest of the season with his side seventh in the league having been second at the end of November.
Stevens became the third Bundesliga coach sacked his season along with Felix Magath from Wolfsburg and Babbel at Hoffenheim.
Schalke, Dortmund and Bayern will all discover their Champions League opponents on Thursday when the last 16 draw is made.
On Saturday, second-placed Leverkusen beat Hamburg 3-0 to trim Bayern’s lead at the top to nine points with striker Stefan Kiessling and current Germany forward Andre Schuerrle both netting.
Kiessling opened the scoring on 26 minutes when his close-range shot gave the Hamburg defence no chance and the hosts doubled their lead 10 minutes later when Schuerrle netted as the ball went in off the post.
Kiessling claimed his 12th goal in 17 games this season to make him the Bundesliga’s top scorer when he latched onto a clearance from Bayer goalkeeper Bernd Leno and drilled home his second on 66 minutes.
It strengthens his case for a recall to the Germany squad in 2013 having last played in the 2010 World Cup third-place play-off win over Uruguay.
Eintracht Frankfurt are fourth, and level on 30 points with Dortmund, after their 2-0 win over 10-man Wolfsburg.
Mainz moved up to sixth after coming from behind to beat VfB Stuttgart 3-1 with midfielder Nicolai Mueller scoring their second-half goals before Colombia midfielder Elkin Soto grabbed the third in the second minute of injury time.
Duesseldorf’s Denmark midfielder Ken Ilso drilled home an 83rd minute free-kick to seal Fortuna’s 2-1 win over Hanover 96.
Greuther Fuerth remain rooted to the bottom of the table after they drew 1-1 at Bavarian neighbours Augsburg in a high-tension affair as both sides finished with 10 men.