Borussia Monchengladbach were
dealt a blow in their bid for an automatic Champions League spot
on Sunday when they lost 2-1 at Hannover 96 in the Bundesliga to
drop three points behind third-placed Schalke 04, who drew 1-1
Hannover's Ivorian Didier Ya Konan slotted home from close
range in the 57th minute and Senegalese Mame Biram Diouf headed
in his fifth league goal this season in the 77th before Gladbach
cut the deficit a minute later through Havard Nordtveid.
The win put Europa League quarter-finalists Hanover, who
trail Atletico Madrid 2-1 after the away leg, firmly back in
contention for a spot in the competition next season.
They are on 41 points in fifth place while Gladbach, after
their third defeat in the last five games, are stuck in fourth
on 51 with six games left to play.
"We made far too many mistakes," said Gladbach coach Lucien
Favre. "We need to rediscover those 15 percent that are
currently missing in our game."
In Sunday's other match, Schalke had to settle for a draw at
Hoffenheim but moved up to 54 points, nine adrift of leaders
Borussia Dortmund and six behind Bayern Munich.
"I am very disappointed because I expected a different
performance from my team," Schalke coach Huub Stevens told
"Our defeat to Bilbao cannot be an excuse because
professionals must be in a position to play three games in a
week", he said referring to their 4-2 Europa League
quarter-final home leg defeat by Athletic in midweek.
Sejad Salihovic had given Hoffenheim an unexpected lead with
a well-taken penalty in the 31st minute with Schalke having
looked far more aggressive at the start.
The visitors fought back and grabbed a deserved point with a
spot-kick of their own as Hoffenheim failed to win at home for
yet another week with their last victory on their own ground
stretching back to October.
Schalke's controversial penalty came after Chinedu Obasi
fell in the box following a challenge from Andreas Beck in the
80th minute, seconds after Klaas-Jan Huntelaar had hit the bar.
The Dutchman quickly made amends, converting the spot-kick
for his 23rd goal of the season to join Bayern Munich's Mario
Gomez at the top of the goal chart.
The top three teams automatically book a spot in the
Champions League group stage for next season.
Dortmund's lead at the top was cut to three points after
they drew 4-4 in a thriller at home to VfB Stuttgart on Friday
while second-placed Bayern beat Nuremberg 1-0 away on Saturday.
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