Stuttgart down Hamburg

Vfb Stuttgart close in on a Uefa Champions League place.

    Party time in Stuttgart [GALLO/GETTY]
    VfB Stuttgart edged Hamburger SV 1-0 to tighten the Bundesliga's already close race for Champions League spots.

    Stuttgart's Roberto Hilbert volleyed in a 20th minute corner from Pavel Pardo as Hamburg dropped to third place in the standings.

    Schalke is now second after beating Hansa Rostock 1-0.

    Four points separate five teams fighting for two Champions League berths behind leader Bayern Munich.

    "We had three or four good chances, only one had to go in,'' Hamburg captain Rafael van der Vaart said.

    "But we're not worried, even if the Champions League race is getting closer. It's going to be interesting.''

    Hamburg's 11-match unbeaten streak was snapped in a match hit by a rainstorm in the waning minutes.

    Stuttgart is now unbeaten in eight games, despite forward Mario Gomez being injured after scoring 15 goals in 11 games.

    Paolo Guerrero chipped over an empty goal in the first half and Van der Vaart and Nigel de Jong also wasted several chances for Hamburg.

    Stuttgart, the defending champions, climbed to fifth after a horrible start to the season. The club is two points away from a Champions League spot.

    "After this terribly hard season, even the Uefa Cup would be a success,'' Stuttgart coach Armin Veh said.

    "That will be hard enough.''

    Schalke beat Rostock

    Schalke has 48 points from 27 rounds, with Hamburg and Bremen at 47, Stuttgart at 45 and Leverkusen with 44. Bayern could extend its six-point lead Sunday with a win against VfL Bochum.

    Schalke needed Halil Altintop's running header in the 52nd minute to beat Rostock in an uninspired match ahead of next week's Champions League quarterfinal game.

    "We know we're not playing very good or pretty football, but the results count,'' Altintop said after Schalke's fourth win in five games.

    Schalke's Germany forward Kevin Kuranyi started on the bench for the first time in 18 months, and missed three good chances after coming on late in the game.

    Tim Borowski's first goal this season helped Bremen win for the first time in four matches, in a 2-1 victory against Hertha Berlin.

    Torsten Frings whipped a pass from near the midfield line at Borowski's feet and the German midfielder, who has been injured most of the year, sidefooted a 73rd-minute winner inside the right post.

    "That was an incredible pass,'' Borowski said. "We are a good team, we know that. Today you could see we are on the way back.''

    Markus Rosenberg put Bremen ahead with the season's fastest goal, 35 seconds into the game. Andre Lima leveled for Berlin in the 10th minute.

    Fan trouble

    FC Nuremberg beat Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 in a contest stopped for 20 minutes because fans repeatedly tossed fireworks onto the field.

    Both teams are likely to face punishment.

    Goals from Angelos Charisteas, Robert Vittek and Zvjezdan Misimovic helped demotion-threatened Nuremberg win for the first time in 11 matches.

    Bielefeld also beat Karlsruher SC 1-0 and Wolfsburg slipped past Hannover 96 3-2.

    On Friday, Energie Cottbus won 1-0 against Duisburg.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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