Bundesliga: Almeida brace gives Bremen win
Portuguese striker Hugo Almeida struck twice from close range to give hosts Werder Bremen a deserved 2-0 win over Hamburg SV on Sunday and all but end their rivals' title hopes.
Hamburg, also eliminated by Werder in the UEFA Cup and German Cup semi-finals in recent weeks, are in sixth place on 55 points, five off the top with three matches left.
Werder, without playmaker Diego and defender Per Mertesacker, struck in the 34th minute when Almeida tapped in a low cross from Markus Rosenberg. He added another four minutes after the break when he fired in a Mesut Ozil cross.
VfL Wolfsburg lead on 60 points, ahead of Bayern Munich on goal difference. Hertha Berlin are one point off the pace with fourth-placed VfB Stuttgart on 58.
Werder dominated for most of the match and if it had not been for Hamburg keeper Frank Rost, who saved about half a dozen clear scoring chances, and the woodwork, they could have piled more misery on their fellow northern rivals.
"We tried everything but we were just not efficient and that is why Bremen are the deserved winners," said Hamburg coach Martin Jol, whose team played four matches against 10th-placed Werder in just 19 days.
"We had to come back from being behind and that is always difficult away from home."
Almeida, starting in the place of Claudio Pizarro, had little trouble finding a way through a shaky Hamburg defence, scoring his first goal from close range with Rosenberg, who had earlier hit the post, providing the pass.
Hamburg came agonisingly close to an equaliser before the break but Bremen keeper Tim Wiese palmed away a Paolo Guerrero shot from five metres.
Almeida then scored from seven metres in the 49th minute, firing in Ozil's cross before Werder launched a barrage of attacks on the Hamburg defence.
Rost twice denied Pizarro and Peter Niemeyer as well as Torsten Frings and Almeida, before substitute Torsten Oehrl hit the post again for Bremen.
Borussia Moenchengladbach stunned Schalke 04 with a last-gasp goal through Roberto Colautti to win 1-0 and keep alive their hopes of staying up, moving up to 15th place on 27 points.