Germany: Dzeko hat-trick keeps Wolfsburg top
Edin Dzeko struck a 12-minute hat-trick to help VfL Wolfsburg beat Hoffenheim 4-0 and stretch their lead in the Bundesliga to three points with four matches to play.
The Bosnian striker's second-half burst, followed by a penalty from Grafite, lifted Wolfsburg to 60 points from 30 games and kept them in with a real chance of landing their first ever Bundesliga title.
"Now we are the title favourites," Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath told reporters. "We are just before the end and we still have three home games. We can beat anyone in the league."
Bayern Munich are second on 57 after beating lowly Borussia Moenchengladbach 2-1 in their first match under interim coach Jupp Heynckes, who replaced Juergen Klinsmann this week.
Bastian Schweinsteiger put them in front and Hamit Altintop sealed the win after Gladbach had levelled with a Filip Daems penalty.
Hertha Berlin, fourth on 55, will need to beat fifth-placed Hamburg SV on Sunday to cut the Wolfsburg lead back to two.
Wolfsburg almost grabbed the lead against struggling Hoffenheim when Grafite hit a post at the end of the first half.
Dzeko, who had not seen much action up to then, broke the deadlock on 66 minutes and bagged a second from close range when Grafite found him at the near post.
The Bosnian scored his 19th goal of the season, sealing a memorable hat-trick, with a shot from the edge of the box.
Grafite completed the rout with his 23rd of the season, a penalty a minute from time conceded by defender Andreas Beck, who was sent off.
Bayern Munich were aggressive in Heynckes's first match in charge of the champions in more than 17 years.
Lukas Podolski had two early chances and defender Lucio even hit the post but it was Schweinsteiger who put them in front in the 33rd minute when he slid into the box to connect with a low Luca Toni cross from the right.
Gladbach levelled with Daems's penalty five minutes later before Altintop fired in a Podolski cross to restore the lead.
Bayern could have added several more but Toni missed five clear chances from close range in just seven minutes.
"We should have scored a third to seal it," Heynckes told reporters. "But even so we played well. We worked well this week with the players but it is not easy coming in five matches before the end."
Third-placed VfB Stuttgart twice squandered a lead to draw 2-2 with Arminia Bielefeld and drop two points behind Bayern while Borussia Dortmund scored their sixth straight win, a 2-0 against hosts Eintracht Frankfurt to climb to sixth on 52.