Soccer-Schalke upset Leverkusen as Bayern crush Freiburg

February 15, 2014

(Adds later game)

By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Jan Klaas Huntelaar headed home in the 74th minute to spur Schalke 04 to a 2-1 victory over second-placed Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, allowing Bayern Munich to extend their Bundesliga lead to 16 points.

The Netherlands striker had his back to the goal but outleapt his marker to score a glancing header off a 40-metre Jefferson Farfan free kick just five minutes after Leverkusen had equalised with a Felipe Santana own goal.

"I always had the feeling we'd get our chance and when we did we took advantage of it," said Huntelaar. "It tastes good to get the three points here at Leverkusen."

Schalke, in fourth place with 40 points, had deservedly taken a 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute when Leon Goretzka took advantage of a Leverkusen blunder. Schalke host Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Earlier on Saturday, Bayern Munich crushed Freiburg 4-0, recording their 13th successive Bundesliga victory and extending their league unbeaten streak to 46.

It was perfect preparation for Wednesday's Champions League knockout round clash at Arsenal with Bayern coach Pep Guardiola taking the opportunity to rest four key players: Jerome Boateng, David Alaba, Thiago and Mario Goetze.

Bayern's reserves took full advantage of their chances in a furious first half with Switzerland midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri scoring twice off deflected shots after defender Dante put Munich ahead in the 19th minute with a glancing header.

Bayern, in fine form after thumping Hamburg SV 5-0 in a German Cup quarter-final match on Wednesday and beating Nuremberg 2-0 last Saturday, shifted down a gear in the second half but still controlled the match.

Claudio Pizarro gave the 71,000 fans in the Allianz Arena a final chance to cheer, scoring after a fine solo run from the left in the 88th minute.

"Now we've got Arsenal ahead of us and we'll need to have our best possible performance to win," said Guardiola. "We'll have to play at a very high level to advance."

Third-placed Borussia Dortmund, with 42 points, downed Eintracht Frankfurt 4-0.

Hamburg SV's woes continued with an eighth successive defeat, 4-2 to Braunschweig.

Hamburg, the only Bundesliga club never to be relegated, fell deeper into the relegation zone in a blunder-filled performance against last-placed Braunschweig, raising further speculation that coach Bert van Marwijk would be sacked.

Germany goalkeeper Rene Adler had an especially dreadful afternoon, with two second-half errors that led to goals. Domi Kumbela came off the bench to score three second half goals for Braunschweig

Last week Hamburg looked at hiring Felix Magath as their coach. Magath was interested but could not reach an agreement with HSV management. On Friday Premier League bottom club Fulham appointed Magath as their manager on an 18-month contract.

Van Marwijk said his side had made unnecessary defensive mistakes. "If you give away goals like that it's hard to do anything."

He brushed aside suggestions that he would be sacked. HSV said the club would review the situation on Saturday night.

"The best medicine would be to win a match or two to regain some confidence," said van Marwijk I'm doing everything I possibly can to help HSV." (Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; additional reporting by Tom Wagner; editing by Clare Lovell)