Dortmund thrashed at troubled Hamburg
Mirko Slomka celebrated an ideal start to life as coach of Hamburg with a 3-0 Bundesliga win over Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.
Slomka has only been in charge for five days, but it was evident he had done something to alter the mental state of his players. Rather than being the nervous side seen over the past month, they exuded confidence from the very first kick.
Petr Jiracek headed the hosts in front just before half-time with Pierre-Michel Lasogga adding a second for a side which had lost their last eight games in all competitions before Slomka replaced Bert van Marwijk this week.
Dortmund seemed distracted by their upcoming Champions League clash with Zenit St Petersburg as they showed little resistance at the Imtech Arena, and they conceded a third when Hakan Calhanoglu scored with a free-kick from over 40 yards out in added time.
Wolfsburg boosted their chances of qualifying for the Champions League next season with a 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen, who end a dismal week on a new low note.
Bas Dost gave the Wolves the lead, but Sidney Sam levelled for Leverkusen on the stroke of half-time. However, the hosts were not to be denied and Luiz Gustavo and Ricardo Rodriguez struck to take Wolfsburg to within two points of fourth-placed Schalke.
They are also now only four points adrift of Leverkusen, who cling on to second place after Borussia Dortmund's defeat to Hamburg earlier on Saturday.
Hoffenheim recovered from two goals down to leave Borussia Monchengladbach still waiting for their first win of 2014 after a 2-2 draw at the Borussia Park Stadion.
The Foals looked to be heading for that elusive victory as goals from Patrick Herrmann and Tony Jantschke gave them a 2-0 lead at half-time.
Roberto Firmino and a Sejad Salihovic penalty denied them, however, as struggling Hoffenheim picked up a precious point away from home.
Stuttgart slipped closer to the Bundesliga relegation zone after losing a sixth game in a row, Hertha Berlin taking the spoils 2-1 at the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Levan Kobiashvili gave Jos Luhukay's men the lead in the fifth minute before Arthur Boka levelled on the stroke of half-time.
Sandro Wagner clinched victory for the capital club in the 87th minute before picking up a red card, the only blot on the day for Hertha in Baden-Wurttemberg.
Freiburg threw away a 2-1 lead with just over 10 minutes to go to lose 4-2 at home to Augsburg and see their relegation worries deepen.
Tobias Werner gave Augsburg the lead early on, but Jonathan Schmid and Admir Mehmedi turned things around to put Christian Streich's men on course for a much-needed win.
They failed to go the distance, though, with Paul Verhaegh, Halil Altintop and Andre Hahn all scoring inside the last 12 minutes to earn Augsburg all three points and take them to within a point of the top six.
Rafael Schafer saved two penalties as Nurnberg came from behind to beat Eintracht Braunschweig 2-1 with 10 men, missing a spot kick of their own in a dramatic battle at the Frankenstadion.
Per Nilsson was given his marching orders minutes before Dominik Kumbela put Braunschweig ahead.
Kumbela was then denied a second from the spot by Schafer before two goals in as many minutes at the start of the second half from Hiroshi Kiyotake and Tomas Pekhart turned the game on its head.
Ermin Bicakcic was next to be denied by Schafer before Kiyotake returned the favour by missing a penalty at the other end, but Nurnberg held on to their fourth win in five games in 2014.