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Grafite double keeps Wolfburg clear

SoccerNews in Bundesliga 18 Apr 2009

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Brazil striker Grafite kept up his phenomenal scoring record with two goals on Saturday as Bundesliga leaders Wolfsburg stayed three-points clear at the top with a 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen.

Grafite has now scored 22 league goals in 19 games this season to top the goal-scoring table and keep his side on course for their first Bundesliga title as Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath looks to usurp defending champions Bayern Munich.

Magath was sacked by Bayern in February 2007, but he has forged Wolfsburg into a strong unit who remain unbeaten at home this season.

And his side showed their class with Grafite’s late winner when he slotted home the winner with 85 minutes gone.

Their tenth consecutive league win means Wolfsburg have equalled the record for most wins in a row a single season set by Moenchengladbach in 1987.

“We were lucky to only concede one goal, because Leverkusen started both the first and second half very strongly,” said Magath.

“The team showed they are willing to fight, but they are not used to being table leaders.

“We had to work hard for our win last week, here again against Leverkusen and it will probably be the same next week too.”

The hosts had opened the scoring when Grafite was brought down by Bayer’s Manuel Friedrich, but the Brazilian picked himself off the turf to drill his spot kick past Germany goalkeeper Rene Adler on 23 minutes.

Leverkusen drew level when former Bayern star Tony Kroos slotted home his shot on 54 minutes as the 19-year-old scored his first goal for his club since his January transfer from Munich.

But Grafite had the final word when he broke clear late in the game and showed his usual composure to keep his side clear of the chasing pack.

Bayern Munich remain three points behind in second after Italy’s Luca Toni scored the winning goal for the defending champions to seal a 1-0 victory at Arminia Bielefeld.

Having been dumped out of the Champions League by Barcelona last week, Bayern are back in the hunt for some silverware as the defending champions picked up three much-needed points to take the pressure off coach Jurgen Klinsmann.

“We are very content to travel home with three points,” said Klinsmann with six games left this season.

“This was very, very importantly to keep in touch with Wolfsburg. There are another 18 points up for grabs and we want to get as many as possible to pass them sooner or later.”

Bayern were heading for a draw until Franck Ribery swung in a corner and Toni rose above the home defence to drill home his header in the 64th minute.

Germany striker Mario Gomez has now scored 18 league goals this season after he netted a hat-trick for Stuttgart in their 3-0 win at Cologne which put his side third in the table.

Having headed a Roberto Hilbert cross past Cologne’s Columbia goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon on 16 minutes, Gomez bagged his second on 55 minutes when Brazil striker Cacau drew Mondragon to leave his team-mate a simple tap in.

The Germany star wrapped his hat-trick up on 71 minutes.

Hoffenheim drop to eighth in the table after they drew 2-2 with bottom side Karlsruhe.

Dortmund are up to seventh after their 2-0 win at Bochum and Frankfurt are 11th following their 4-1 win over relegation-threatened Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Hamburg have the chance to go third on Sunday when they host mid-table Hanover, while Hertha Berlin need to beat UEFA Cup semi-finalists Werder Bremen at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium to stay in the title race.

On Friday, Energie Cottbus were humbled 4-0 by Schalke 04 and the team have offered to reimburse the 600 fans who made the 610km journey from east Germany to Gelsenkirchen. The win leaves Schalke sixth in the table.

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