Come-back kings Schalke poach a point
Berlin: Bayer Leverkusen went back to the top of the Bundesliga on Saturday despite come-back kings Schalke 04 forcing a late equaliser for the second match running to seal a 2-2 draw.
With eight minutes remaining, Leverkusen were cruising to a 2-0 win, but goals from Schalke forwards Kevin Kuranyi on 83 minutes and Vicente Sanchez on 88 sealed the draw, but Bayer are still a point clear of second-placed Bremen.
Leverkusen`s 64-year-old coach Jupp Heynckes brushed off the effects of `flu to see teenager Tony Kroos and Germany striker Steffan Kiessling put the guests 2-0 ahead at the break.
Midfielder Kroos, who is on loan from Bavarian neighbours Bayern Munich, hit a stunning volley on 29 minutes and the 19-year-old`s shot gave Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer no chance.
Then Kiessling scored with a header just before the break to make it 2-0 in Schalke`s backyard.
But the Royal Blues, whose coach Felix Magath said on Saturday he may have to sell some of their stars - including both Vicente and Kuranyi - to reduce their substantial debt, fought back to stay fourth in the league.
Kuranyi, who broke Hamburg hearts last Sunday with a last-minute header which prevented them from going top, struck again before Sanchez beat Bayer goalkeeper Rene Adler with a header to take a point.
"At the end, we were all out on our feet," admitted Adler.
"We really gave away two points at the end, no question."
And despite his wonder strike, Kroos took no comfort from his goal.
"The disappointment of throwing the game away like that far outweighs the goal," said the teenager.
"I can`t take much satisfaction from that."
Earlier, Werder Bremen had temporarily taken over at the top of the table after attacking midfielder Aaron Hunt hit two second-half goals to help his side come from behind to salvaged a 2-2 draw at Nuremberg.
"The result was good considering our performance in the first-half," said Hunt after Nuremberg`s striker Christian Eigler and Albert Bunjaku put the hosts 2-0 up at the break.
"We didn`t work hard enough to win the ball and we had to tighten up after the break."
Hamburg were robbed of the chance of going top of the German league for the second consecutive match after mid-table Borussia Moenchengladbach poached a shock 3-2 away victory as Canadian striker Rob Friend hit a 82nd-minute winner.
Hamburg had taken a 2-1 lead midway through the second half after goals by Germany winger Piotr Trochowski and a free-kick by Brazil midfielder Ze Roberto.
But a header from Brazil defender Dante put the visitors level on 76 minutes and then Friend hit the winner with time running out to leave Hamburg third.
Stuttgart coach Markus Babbel boosted his chances of holding onto his job after his side held Bayern Munich to a scoreless draw in Stuttgart.
Stuttgart were dumped out of the German Cup last Tuesday at Greuther Fuerth, their fifth consecutive defeat, but the ex-Bayern Munich midfielder received a vote of confidence from his board on Wednesday.
And having broken his losing streak, Babbel`s fortunes appear to be looking up.
Defending champions Wolfsburg threw away a 2-0 lead after two goals from Nigeria striker Obafemi Martins only for mid-table Mainz to produce a spirited comeback. In the closing minutes defender Tim Hoogland hit an equaliser to seal a 3-3 draw for a share of the spoils.
Cologne are hovering above the relegation zone after their 1-0 defeat at home to midtable Hanover.
Hertha Berlin remained rooted to the bottom of the Bundesliga after they were beaten 2-0 by Borussia Dortmund on Friday night and remain four points adrift of the rest of the league.
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