Bayer Leverkusen kept pace with the chasing pack in the Bundesliga courtesy of a 2-1 victory over struggling Hoffenheim on Sunday.
Goals from Lars Bender and Daniel Carvajal opened a two-goal lead in the first half before Fabian Johnson pulled a goal back for the hosts.
Hoffenheim pushed for an equaliser but Leverkusen held on for their ninth win in 10 league games.
Sami Hyypia’s team hit the front after 15 minutes, with Bender finding the back of the net from close range before Carvajal finished off a flowing move to double the visitors’ lead.
American international Fabian Johnson curled a shot past goalkeeper Bernd Leno to offer Markus Babbel’s team some hope but they were unable to find the all-important equaliser.
Leverkusen’s win leaves them fifth, level on points with Schalke and Eintracht Frankfurt, and one point adrift of defending champions Borussia Dortmund, who are second.
Elsewhere on Sunday, sixth-placed Freiburg extended their unbeaten run to four games by defeating rivals Stuttgart 3-0.
Jan Rosenthal broke the deadlock in the 22nd minute, guiding his effort inside the left post.
Freiburg moved two goals clear courtesy of Pavel Krmas’ 67th-minute rebound before Max Kruse put the result beyond doubt six minutes later.
Meanwhile, Patrick Herrmann levelled proceedings late on as Borussia Moenchengladbach salvaged a 1-1 draw at bottom side Augsburg.
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