Bayer Leverkusen neared Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund with a 2-1 victory over St Pauli on Sunday, while Cologne were thrashed.
Leverkusen’s fifth-straight win in the German top flight moved the club within five points of Dortmund, one day after the league leaders were held to a 1-1 draw at Hamburg.
But the hosts were forced to work for the result after St Pauli took a surprise lead through Charles Takyi in the 58th minute.
Florian Bruns picked out Takyi with an inch-perfect cross from the right and the Ghanaian-born striker made no mistake with his first touch, feathering the ball inside the far post.
But St Pauli’s lead lasted a mere eight minutes before Leverkusen substitute Eren Derdiyok set up Leverkusen’s equaliser.
Switzerland midfielder pounced on a poor clearance, drove into the area on a clever one-two with Gonzalo Castro, drew St Pauli goalkeeper Benedikt Pliquett to him and tucked a pass back to Stefan Kiessling to fire into the empty net in the 66th minute.
Fellow Leverkusen substitute Lars Bender nabbed the winner in the 77th minute, with the former Germany Under-20 international springing the offside trap on Sidney Sam’s through ball and threading a low shot under Pliquett.
Elsewhere, bottom-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach moved within two points of escape from the relegation zone with a 5-1 thumping of visiting Cologne.
Juan Arango’s opener and a brace to Marco Reus had the Bundesliga strugglers up 3-0 at the break.
Reus’ second was a thing of beauty, with the midfielder bringing down Mike Hanke’s header well outside the area and unleashing a wonderful volley that dipped under the crossbar.
Slovenian Milivoje Novakovic pulled one back for Cologne five minutes after the restart, meeting Slawomir Peszko’s cross with a side-footed finish from close range.
But Filip Daems restored Borussia’s advantage from the penalty spot 14 minutes later following a Cologne handball, and Norwegian defender Havard Nordveit put the game beyond reach with a rare goal – his first in the top-flight – three minutes later.
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