Petric double gives Hamburg victory
Croatian striker Mladen Petric struck twice to give Hamburg SV a 2-1 win over Hanover 96 on Sunday, lifting them back into third place in the Bundesliga with six matches remaining.
Hamburg moved level on 54 points with champions Bayern Munich who beat Arminia Bielefeld 1-0 on Saturday and have a better goal difference.
VFL Wolfsburg beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 to maintain their three-point lead at the top on 57 points.
Petric struck after only a minute when he connected perfectly with a Jerome Boateng cross inside the box to volley home.
Hamburg, still in contention for the UEFA Cup and German Cup, looked drained from their gruelling match schedule but the visitors rarely threatened.
Petric grabbed his second from close range seven minutes after the break to take his season's tally to 12 goals before Hanover's Mikael Forssell pulled one back with a penalty in the 70th minute.
"We really wanted that early goal," Hamburg coach Martin Jol told reporters. "It was good to see that the players, ahead of the matches against Werder Bremen (in the UEFA Cup semi-final), stayed fully focused."
Hertha Berlin, missing banned striker Andriy Voronin, staged a dramatic comeback to beat Werder Bremen 2-1 and keep alive their slim hopes for a first championship since 1931.
Bremen defender Per Mertesacker gave the visitors, without injured midfielder Diego, a well-deserved lead just before the break when he pushed the ball over the line after defensive confusion.
Bremen were unlucky not to score another goal before Hertha central defender Josip Simunic equalised with a header in the 71st.
The hosts poured forward, desperately looking for the winner, but twice hit the woodwork before Raffael fired a thundering drive from 18 yards in the 87th to give Hertha their first win after three straight defeats, triggering wild celebrations by 68,000 fans in the Olympic stadium.
"It was about time we won a match again," Hertha coach Lucien Favre said. "My team showed character. The fans were fantastic and to have so many coming after three defeats shows that something is happening in Berlin."
Hertha climbed back to fourth place on 52 points.