Dortmund ease past Hoffenheim
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 struck on 58 minutes after some fine play from Germany's Marco Reus before Lewandowski fired in 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.
On Sunday night, Werder Bremen needed a late equaliser to draw 1-1 at home with Nuremberg after Timo Gebhart had put the visitors ahead in the 82nd minute.
Nils Petersen levelled in the 88th minute from an offside position, but referee Manuel Graefe allowed the goal to stand much to the disgust of Nuremberg coach Dieter Hecking.
"We have to accept things when decisions go against us, but that's just not on," fumed Hecking, while Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf admitted he had sympathy.
"Eventually you reach the point as coach where you say enough is enough. The bottom line is we deserved a draw."
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 to be dismissed this 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 as striker Stefan Kiessling scored twice along with current Germany forward Andre Schuerrle.
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 Danish 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.