Bayer Leverkusen regained fourth place in the Bundesliga on Sunday with a 4-1 romp at Nuremberg in their battle to retain their Champions League place for next season.
Goals by Leverkusen’s Bosnia centre-back Emir Spahic and Poland left-back Sebastian Boenisch cancelled out Marvin Plattenhardt’s first-half equaliser as the visitors went 2-1 up soon after the break.
Leverkusen’s South Korea star Son Heung-Min made sure of the victory when he sprinted clear on a counter-attack and drew the defence for Spahic to tap home his second with ten minutes left.
Ex-Germany international Roberto Hilbert grabbed Leverkusen’s fourth seven minutes later having come off the bench.
“We want a Champions League place and we won’t rest until we get it,” said Leverkusen’s director of sport Rudi Voeller.
Leverkusen lead Wolfsburg by a point with just three games left to decide Germany’s fourth Champions League place after Wolves had spent 24 hours in fourth after Saturday’s 3-1 win at Hamburg.
Bayer enjoyed their second straight win since ex-Liverpool captain Sami Hyypia was sacked as coach, while Nuremberg suffered their fourth straight defeat which leaves them second from bottom.
VfB Stuttgart took a big step towards survival with a 3-1 win at home to third-placed Schalke 04 which leaves them four points from the relegation places.
Austria striker Martin Harnik netted twice while Germany forward Cacau also scored as Stuttgart raced into a 3-0 lead before Hungary’s Adam Szalai pulled one back for the visitors with 20 minutes left.
“We’ve shown we can fight, keep things together and beat a team who are better than us on paper,” said Stuttgart coach Huub Stevens.
“That’s a step (away from relegation), but nothing more.”
On Saturday, champions Bayern Munich ended a run of three Bundesliga games without victory with an unimpressive 2-0 win at bottom club Eintracht Braunschweig ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal, first-leg at Real Madrid.
Peru veteran Claudio Pizarro, 35, and Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic were on target with late goals in what was only Bayern’s third win in their last seven games in all competitions.
The victory left Bayern on 81 points and 17 points clear of second-placed Dortmund who picked up their fifth straight win.
Borussia enjoyed a 4-2 victory at home to ten-man Mainz 05 as coach Jurgen Klopp faced his former side having coached them from 2001-08.
Dortmund took the lead after just six minutes through a curious goal when Milos Jojic’s strike went in off the upper arm of Borussia’s Oliver Kirch, but despite furious protests the goal stood.
Japan striker Shinji Okazaki scored twice for Mainz to make it 2-2, his second after pouncing on a terrible back pass from Dortmund’s Nuri Sahin. The Japanese international scoring either side of Bayern-bound Robert Lewandowski’s strike for Dortmund.
Dortmund made sure of the three points, which confirmed their Champions League direct qualification, with goals by defender Lukasz Piszczek and Germany winger Marco Reus, who converted a penalty 12 minutes from time after Mainz had centre-back Niko Bungert sent off for a handball.
Ten-man VfL Wolfsburg romped to a 3-1 win at Hamburg as goals by Ivan Perisic, Kevin de Bruyne and Ivica Olic gave Wolves a 3-0 lead just after the break before Hamburg’s Ivo Ilicevic scored a consolation for the hosts who remain third from bottom.
Wolves were reduced to ten men when Brazil midfielder Luiz Gustavo was sent off for a second yellow card on 90 minutes.
Hamburg is facing an historic first relegation from Germany’s top flight.
Freiburg are virtually assured of their survival as their 4-2 win at home to ten-man Borussia Moenchengladbach left them eight points above the relegation places with three games left.
Likewise, Werder Bremen are set to stay in the Bundesliga as their 3-1 win at home to Hoffenheim lifted them up to 11th and nine points from danger while mid-table Hertha Berlin and Augsburg shared the points in a goalless draw.