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Serie A heavyweights head-to-head

50-50 Challenge 2 days ago
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By ESPN Staff
Jan 21, 2012

Schalke level at top

Schalke moved level on points with Bayern Munich at the top of the Bundesliga thanks to a 3-1 home win over Stuttgart at the Arena AufSchalke.

Joel Matip gave the Royal Blues a perfect start with a goal in the third minute while the home team also had a goal from Klaas Jan Huntelaar wrongly disallowed.

Kyriakos Papadopoulos then doubled the lead in the 57th minute with Julian Draxler adding the third 10 minutes from time.

Shinji Okazaki pulled a goal back in the 87th minute for Stuttgart but it was too little too late to worry the hosts as they made the most of Bayern's defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday night.

Sebastian Polter gave Wolfsburg a winning start to 2012 with a late goal earning Felix Magath's new-look side all three points 1-0 against Cologne.

Five of Magath's winter signings played a part in the proceedings, but it was a home-grown talent who made the difference with the winning goal 12 minutes from the end.

The hosts enjoyed the better of the game, although Cologne wasted numerous good chances, indicating that perhaps the Wolves' fortunes may well have turned in the new year.

Christian Streich celebrated a winning start to life as coach of Freiburg as his side moved off the foot of the table with a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Augsburg.

With all eyes on Freiburg's new attack following the sale of Papiss Demba Cisse to Newcastle, it was a previously unknown defender who scored the winning goal. Eighteen-year-old debutant Matthias Ginter scored the only goal of the game in the 88th minute as Streich's gamble on one of the youngsters he was coaching in the youth team before Christmas paid off.

Nurnberg celebrated their 1,000th game in the Bundesliga with a 2-0 win over Hertha Berlin which increased the likelihood of them extending their stay in the top flight of German football by another season.

Alexander Esswein and Dominic Maroh scored the goals for Dieter Hecking's side against Hertha Berlin, whose new coach Michael Skibbe made a losing return to the Bundesliga. The win lifted Nurnberg above their opponents, taking them five points clear of the bottom three.

There was also a 0-0 draw between Hoffenheim and Hannover.

Both sides have declared their ambition of finishing inside the top six this season, but improvements will be needed if either of them are to succeed in catching Bayer Leverkusen after showing more limitations than potential in wintry conditions in Baden-Wurttemberg.

Chances were few and far between as both sides lacked attacking ambition and appeared to fear losing rather than take the risks needed to win.

In the day's late game, Werder Bremen goalkeeper Tim Wiese was on top form to earn his side a point in a keenly-contested 0-0 draw with Kaiserslautern at the Betzenberg.

Both sides hit the woodwork in an entertaining Bundesliga encounter in front of a sell-out crowd in Rhineland-Palatinate. The draw hardly helped either side as Bremen lost ground on the top three and Kaiserslautern missed the chance to move out of the bottom three.

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