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Kramaric hat-trick puts Hoffenheim in Champions League spot

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Hoffenheim has found itself in a Champions League position after topping Hannover 96 at home 3-1 behind a hat-trick by Andrej Kramaric.

The first of the game came 16 minutes in as a terrible back-pass by defender Salif Sane failed to reach the goalkeeper and instead fell straight into the path of Serge Gnabry who eluded a charging Philipp Tschauner and touched to Kramaric for the tap-in. Gnabry was actually hurt on the play and had to be removed minutes later.

Hannover leveled things up after just eight minutes, but Kramaric was there to give Hoffenheim the lead back five minutes after the halftime break. On a corner, the outswinger evaded the pack but fell to 26-year-old Croatian who produced a fabulous volley to send a rocket into the back of the net.

And yet somehow, his third was even better. A long ball forward saw Kramaric go up against two defenders, and instead of taking them head-on, seeing Tschauner cheating forward, he dinked the ball past the two defenders, over the goalkeeper’s head, and into the back of the net. A wonderful goal that sealed the deal in the 86th minute and put Hoffenheim into fourth place in the Bundesliga table, a Champions League position.

Just a point behind them is Bayer Leverkusen who will play on Saturday against Stuttgart at home hoping to regain that position. Should Hoffenheim gain control, they would be gunning for the club’s second Champions League place in club history, with the first coming this season as they finished fourth the previous year as well. They were eliminated from the Champions League playoff round by Liverpool before finishing last in their Europa League group of SC Braga, Ludogorets, and Istanbul Başakşehir.

Bundesliga wrap: Hoffenheim, Bremen improve table hope

Carmen Jaspersen/dpa via AP
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Bayern Munich destroyed Borussia Dortmund in Der Klassiker on Saturday, scoring five first-half goals and eviscerating any level of doubt regarding the top side in the Bundesliga.

[ MORE: Arsenal beats Stoke ]

The league’s interest lies on escaping relegation and chasing Champions League spots. Both of those races saw movement over the weekend.

Hoffenheim 6-0 Koln

Koln’s hopes of a miraculous run out of the relegation zone were dashed at the hands of Hoffenheim, which got a blowout win with the help of another Bayern Munich man. Loanee Serge Gnabry scores twice to give him seven goals and six assists on the season as Hoffenheim stayed on the outskirts of the UEFA Champions League race.

Werder Bremen 2-1 Eintracht Frankfurt

An awful to start to the season has been almost completely remedied, as Zlatko Junuzovic was involved in both goals (including the below own goal) to lift Werder Bremen 10 points clear of the relegation playoff spot and hamper the visitors’ (probably expected) move into a tie for third. USMNT striker Aron Johannsson subbed into the match for the final 14 minutes, moments before Bremen scored the winner.

Elsewhere
Bayer Leverkusen 0-0 Augsburg
Schalke 2-0 Freiburg
Hertha Berlin 0-0 Wolfsburg
Mainz 0-0 Borussia Monchengladbach
Hannover 96 2-3 RB Leipzig
Stuttgart 1-1 Hamburg

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 28 22 3 3 72 20 52 12-2-0 10-1-3 69
 FC Schalke 04 28 15 7 6 43 30 13 8-4-2 7-3-4 52
 Borussia Dortmund 28 13 9 6 54 39 15 7-4-3 6-5-3 48
 RB Leipzig 28 13 7 8 43 37 6 8-4-2 5-3-6 46
 Bayer Leverkusen 28 12 9 7 47 35 12 6-5-3 6-4-4 45
 Eintracht Frankfurt 28 13 6 9 39 32 7 7-3-4 6-3-5 45
 1899 Hoffenheim 28 11 9 8 52 41 11 8-4-2 3-5-6 42
 VfB Stuttgart 28 11 5 12 26 31 -5 8-3-3 3-2-9 38
 Mönchengladbach 28 10 7 11 36 42 -6 6-4-4 4-3-7 37
 FC Augsburg 28 9 9 10 37 36 1 5-4-5 4-5-5 36
 Hertha BSC Berlin 28 8 12 8 32 32 0 4-6-4 4-6-4 36
 Werder Bremen 28 9 9 10 32 33 -1 6-4-4 3-5-6 36
 Hannover 96 28 8 8 12 35 42 -7 6-3-5 2-5-7 32
 SC Freiburg 28 6 12 10 26 46 -20 5-6-3 1-6-7 30
 VfL Wolfsburg 28 4 14 10 28 37 -9 2-7-5 2-7-5 26
 FSV Mainz 05 28 6 8 14 29 46 -17 5-3-6 1-5-8 26
 1. FC Köln 28 5 5 18 27 55 -28 3-3-8 2-2-10 20
 Hamburger SV 28 4 7 17 20 44 -24 3-4-7 1-3-10 19

Bundesliga wrap: Bayern runs riot; Gnabry leads Hoffenheim

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
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A day the champions dominated left the focus on the plight of its visitors, as the race to avoid the relegation playoff spot also stays tight in Germany’s top flight.

[ MORE: Claudio Reyna spits truth ]

Bayern Munich 6-0 Hamburg

USMNT forward Bobby Wood wasn’t in the 18 to see his likely relegation-bound side get absolutely bamboozled by the league’s gold standard attack.

Robert Lewandowski bagged a hat trick, Franck Ribery scored twice, and Arjen Robben also netted  for the hosts.

Lewandowski’s 20 league goals are seven more than the field, and the second-place contestant is now in the Premier League (Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Arsenal).

Here’s Hamburg boss Bernd Hollerbach:

“The game was over after 18 minutes. You can come here and lose, but I wasn’t happy with the manner of the defeat. That’s not the football I want to see.”

With the score 4-0, Ribery took nearly 70 percent of the Hamburg XI to school.

Hoffenheim 3-0 Wolfsburg

Serge Gnabry scored twice in about three minutes — one may be changed to an own goal — to bury the visitors’ hopes of relegation relief, as Hoffenheim stayed within sight of the Top Six. The loss means Wolfsburg remains ahead of playoff-bound 16th place on goal differential alone.

Elsewhere
Mainz 0-1 Schalke — Friday
Hertha Berlin 0-0 Freiburg
Hannover 1-3 Augsburg
Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Borussia Monchengladbach
Stuttgart vs. RB Leipzig — 10:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Borussia Dortmund vs. Eintracht Frankfurt — 1 p.m. ET Sunday
Werder Bremen vs. Koln — 3:30 p.m. ET Monday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 26 21 3 2 65 18 47 11-2-0 10-1-2 66
 FC Schalke 04 26 13 7 6 40 30 10 7-4-2 6-3-4 46
 Bayer Leverkusen 26 12 8 6 47 33 14 6-4-3 6-4-3 44
 Borussia Dortmund 25 11 9 5 50 31 19 5-4-3 6-5-2 42
 Eintracht Frankfurt 25 12 6 7 33 27 6 6-3-4 6-3-3 42
 RB Leipzig 25 11 6 8 38 34 4 7-4-2 4-2-6 39
 1899 Hoffenheim 26 10 8 8 43 38 5 7-4-2 3-4-6 38
 FC Augsburg 26 9 8 9 36 33 3 5-4-4 4-4-5 35
 Mönchengladbach 26 10 5 11 33 39 -6 6-3-4 4-2-7 35
 VfB Stuttgart 25 10 3 12 23 29 -6 8-1-3 2-2-9 33
 Hertha BSC Berlin 26 7 11 8 30 31 -1 4-5-4 3-6-4 32
 Hannover 96 26 8 8 10 33 38 -5 6-3-4 2-5-6 32
 SC Freiburg 26 6 12 8 25 42 -17 5-6-2 1-6-6 30
 Werder Bremen 25 6 9 10 24 30 -6 4-4-4 2-5-6 27
 VfL Wolfsburg 26 4 13 9 28 36 -8 2-7-4 2-6-5 25
 FSV Mainz 05 26 6 7 13 29 43 -14 5-2-6 1-5-7 25
 Hamburger SV 26 4 6 16 18 41 -23 3-4-6 1-2-10 18
 1. FC Köln 25 4 5 16 24 46 -22 2-3-8 2-2-8 17

Bundesliga wrap: USMNTs Johannsson the hero for Bremen, Bayern draws

Carmen Jaspersen/dpa via AP
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Goals were not abundant as the Bundesliga staged five Saturday matches without a single squad finding the back of the net on multiple occasions.

[ MORE: Projecting PL relegation ]

And there’s a shake-up at the bottom of the table after American striker Aron Johannsson’s substitute heroics moved Werder Bremen 14th.

Werder Bremen 1-0 Hamburg

USMNT strikers Johansson and Bobby Wood started on the bench for the hosts and visitors, respectively, as Werder Bremen and Hamburg dueled for critical points in the race to avoid relegation to 2.Bundesliga.

Wood entered the game in the 77th minute, but was upstaged when Johannsson again played super sub for Werder Bremen. The Icelandic-Alabamian’s shot pushed through the keeper and onto the doorstep for Johannes Eggestein to slide over the line.

It looked offside, but withstood all protests and reviews. Werder is now 3-1 in its last four matches, all featuring significant contributions from the previously rarely used Johannsson.

Hoffenheim 1-1 Freiburg

Andrej Kramaric scored for the fifth time in four matches to give the hosts a lead just after halftime, but Freiburg star Nils Petersen scored in the 66th minute to give the visitors a point and him 12 league goals on the season.

Hannover 96 0-1 Borussia Monchengladbach

Defensive midfielder Christoph Kramer scored his second goal of the season to give the visitors a 72nd minute lead, a 90-minute win, and positioning to potentially negotiate European qualification with a strong finish to the season.

Elsewhere
Mainz 1-1 Wolfsburg — Friday
Bayern Munich 0-0 Hertha Berlin
Stuttgart 1-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Schalke — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
RB Leipzig vs. Koln — Noon ET Sunday
Borussia Dortmund vs. Augsburg — 2:30 p.m. ET Monday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 24 19 3 2 55 18 37 10-2-0 9-1-2 60
 Borussia Dortmund 23 11 7 5 48 29 19 5-3-3 6-4-2 40
 Eintracht Frankfurt 24 11 6 7 32 27 5 5-3-4 6-3-3 39
 Bayer Leverkusen 23 10 8 5 43 30 13 5-4-2 5-4-3 38
 RB Leipzig 23 11 5 7 36 31 5 7-3-1 4-2-6 38
 FC Schalke 04 23 10 7 6 36 30 6 6-4-2 4-3-4 37
 Mönchengladbach 24 10 4 10 31 35 -4 6-2-4 4-2-6 34
 1899 Hoffenheim 24 8 8 8 38 38 0 6-4-2 2-4-6 32
 Hannover 96 24 8 8 8 32 34 -2 6-3-3 2-5-5 32
 FC Augsburg 23 8 7 8 32 29 3 5-4-3 3-3-5 31
 Hertha BSC Berlin 24 7 10 7 30 30 0 4-4-4 3-6-3 31
 VfB Stuttgart 24 9 3 12 20 27 -7 8-1-3 1-2-9 30
 SC Freiburg 24 6 11 7 25 38 -13 5-6-1 1-5-6 29
 Werder Bremen 24 6 8 10 22 28 -6 4-4-4 2-4-6 26
 VfL Wolfsburg 24 4 13 7 27 31 -4 2-7-3 2-6-4 25
 FSV Mainz 05 24 6 6 12 29 42 -13 5-2-5 1-4-7 24
 Hamburger SV 24 4 5 15 18 35 -17 3-3-6 1-2-9 17
 1. FC Köln 23 3 5 15 20 42 -22 2-3-7 1-2-8 14

Schalke signs Hoffenheim striker Mark Uth for next season

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GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) Schalke has signed striker Mark Uth for next season on a free transfer from Bundesliga rival Hoffenheim.

The Gelsenkirchen-based club says the 26-year-old Uth, whose contract at Hoffenheim expires at the end of the season, is getting a four-year deal through June 2022.

Schalke sporting director Christian Heidel says, “Uth is the most dangerous German forward in the Bundesliga at the moment and will improve our options in attack drastically from the summer. We’re delighted we could win him for Schalke.”

Uth says the move is the “right step” for him after three seasons at Hoffenheim. He has 28 goals in 72 competitive games for his current club, with nine league goals so far this season.

The Cologne-born forward joined Hoffenheim in 2015 from Dutch side Heerenveen, which he joined in 2012 after failing to break into Cologne’s first team.