Grafite brace keeps Wolfsburg top
Brazilian striker Grafite scored twice including a late winner as VfL Wolfsburg beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 on Saturday to maintain their three-point lead in the Bundesliga.
Champions Bayern Munich, in second place with 54 points, edged hosts Arminia Bielefeld 1-0 thanks to a second half Luca Toni header to stay in the hunt with six matches remaining.
Wolfsburg went ahead in the 23rd minute when the league's top scorer Grafite scored with a penalty after he was brought down by Manuel Friedrich.
Minutes later Zvjezdan Misimovic, who has been a crucial part of coach Felix Magath's offensive engine, set up the Brazilian with a defence-splitting 20-metre pass but Grafite failed to beat Leverkusen keeper Rene Adler.
The visitors stepped up a gear in the second half and quickly levelled through Toni Kroos when he fired home from inside the box.
They then missed a bagful of chances through Patrick Helmes and Renato Augusto, and hit the woodwork through Simon Rolfes with Wolfsburg seemingly overwhelmed, before Misimovic again set up Grafite to slot past Adler in the 85th minute.
Grafite's second goal took his tally to 22 and extended his team's winning run to 10 successive games, matching Borussia Moenchengladbach's record for most consecutive wins in one season dating back to the 1986/87 season.
"We were lucky to concede only one goal," Magath told reporters. "You could see the team was ready to fight but also not used to being at the top of the table.
"We laboured to victory last week, again today, and we will also surely have a hard job next week," said the former Bayern coach, who has avoided any talk of a championship.
BAYERN IN TITLE HUNT
Bayern, who had hoped for a Wolfsburg slip-up, started well and had a good chance but Toni, unmarked in front of goal, failed to connect with a well-placed Jose Sosa cross.
Arminia, who defended surprisingly well in the first half, came even closer when striker Artur Wichniarek shook off defender Martin Demichelis to float in a cross for Robert Tesche.
Bayern keeper Joerg Butt made a stunning reflex save to keep out the header.
The 15th-placed team collapsed in the second half and were lucky to concede only one goal when Bayern attacked in waves, missing chance after chance mainly through Franck Ribery, Hamit Altintop and Toni.
"These were three extremely important points," Bayern coach Juergen Klinsmann said. "There are another 18 points out there and we need to get most of them to move past Wolfsburg."
VfB Stuttgart striker Mario Gomez scored a hat-trick against Cologne to give his team a 3-0 win that lifted them over Hertha Berlin and Hamburg, who both play on Sunday, into third place with 51 points.
Borussia Dortmund made it four wins in a row with a 2-0 win over VfL Bochum.
Hamburg, also on 51 points, play Hanover 96 on Sunday, while Hertha, fifth on 49, host Werder Bremen.