BERLIN, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Schalke 04 won 3-1 at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday to move three points clear at the top of the Bundesliga and leave Bayern Munich trailing by six points.
Gustavo Varela put Schalke ahead and Kevin Kuranyi struck twice to seal victory after Naohiro Takahara had equalised for Frankfurt at the start of the second half.
The result means Werder Bremen will need to win at home to Hanover 96 on Sunday if they are to reclaim top spot.
It also leaves third-placed Bayern in danger of slipping out of the race, after the champions started the new year with a 3-2 defeat at Borussia Dortmund on Friday.
VfB Stuttgart also drifted further behind on Saturday when they were beaten 4-1 away to Nuremberg in a match played with an orange ball in a snowstorm.
With 18 games played, Schalke lead the standings with 39 points, followed by Werder on 36 from 17. Bayern have 33, with Stuttgart fourth a point further back.
Hertha Berlin took advantage of those slip-ups above them to move closer to the Champions League places with a 2-1 win over Wolfsburg. They are now up to 30 points in fifth place.
Hamburg SV's misery continued when a late equaliser meant they had to settle for a 1-1 draw away to Arminia Bielefeld.
Hamburg won just once over the first half of the season and their latest disappointment left them second from bottom in the table with 14 points, ahead of Mainz only on goal difference.
Schalke finished the first half of the league season with a run of six wins and a draw from seven matches.
They quickly picked up where they left off in 2006, moving ahead in the 17th minute when Varela ran on to a clever pass from Kuranyi and finished first time.
Frankfurt equalised when Takahara took advantage of hesitancy in defence to steal in and poke the ball home three minutes after the restart.
Schalke moved back in front when Kuranyi headed in a corner at the far post in the 70th minute, following a flick on from Marcelo Bordon.
As Frankfurt went looking for a second equaliser Kuranyi took advantage to finish off a swift break and make it 3-0 in added time.