BERLIN – Unsung striker Stefan Kiessling scored twice to lead Bayer Leverkusen to a 3-0 win over Hamburg SV that cut Bayern Munich’s lead at the top to nine points at the halfway mark of the Bundesliga on Saturday.
Andre Schuerrle was also on target as second-placed Leverkusen took advantage of Bayern Munich’s slip-up the night before, when they were held 1-1 at home by Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Promoted Eintracht Frankfurt went third with a 2-0 win at VfL Wolfsburg, where all the drama came in a six-minute spell early in the game.
Alexander Meier and Takashi Inui scored for Eintracht while Wolfsburg had Josue sent off for a studs-up challenge, all before the 20th minute.
Greuther Fuerth and Augsburg both finished with 10 men as they drew 1-1 in a meeting of the bottom two, leaving them level on nine points from 17 games at the foot of the 18-team table.
Sascha Moelders gave Augsburg an early lead and Lasse Solbiech levelled after the break for Fuerth, who are in the Bundesliga for the first time and have yet to win at home.
Fuerth’s Mergim Mavraj was dismissed for a second bookable offence, and his sending off was followed by that of Augsburg substitute Giovanni Sio, who got a straight red after only four minutes on the field.
Two goals from Nicolai Mueller helped Mainz 05 to a 3-1 win over VfB Stuttgart and promoted Fortuna Duesseldorf beat Hanover 96 2-1.
Kiessling took his tally for the season to 12 goals, making him the Bundesliga’s leading scorer, against an erratic Hamburg who have won seven and lost seven games.
The 28-year-old has been among the Bundesliga’s leading scorers over the past few seasons but has won only six caps for Germany, finding himself overshadowed by Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez.
Leverkusen reached the halfway mark with 33 points, compared to Bayern’s 42, with Frankfurt a further three points behind.
Leverkusen’s progress has gone almost unnoticed with Bayern hogging the limelight, but Saturday’s performance suggested they could still mount a challenge, especially as the Bavarians have shown a tendency to cave in over the past few seasons.
Kiessling opened the scoring in the 26th minute, side-footing past Rene Adler from an unmarked position after Gonzalo Castro deflected the ball into his path.
Kiessling turned provider 10 minutes later when he threaded a ball into the area for Schuerrle, who burst past his marker and slid the ball past an exasperated Adler, who was again exposed by his defenders.
Adler was angrier at Leverkusen’s final goal, in the 66th minute.
Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno sent a long kick upfield that Heikko Westermann should have cleared, but instead he miscued, allowing Kiessling to go through and lob Adler.