BERLIN (AP) — Union Berlin came from behind to beat Hoffenheim 3-1 and rose to third in the Bundesliga while city rival Hertha Berlin lost by the same score at Bochum to drop into the relegation zone on Saturday.
Forward Jordan Pefok missed an early penalty for Union when his effort crashed off the left post. Then Hoffenheim’s Ihlas Bebou, making his first appearance of the season after a knee injury, shocked the home team on a counterattack just before halftime.
Union responded with relentless pressure after the break and captain Christopher Trimmel set up defender Danilho Doekhi for two late headed goals to send the home fans wild amid flurries of snow.
Jamie Leweling really got the party going by sealing the win in injury time.
A CITY OF TWO TALES
While Union is flying, Hertha is floundering.
Former Union player Keven Schlotterbeck scored on his Bochum debut to help the home team climb out of the relegation zone at the visitor’s expense.
Hertha coach Sandro Schwarz was left shaking his head on the sideline.
“The corner statistics are symptomatic for today’s game – 6-1 for us – but the opponent used two set-pieces to score,” Schwarz said. “It was too little today.”
Both Hertha and Union have midweek games before the city derby next weekend.
Freiburg slumped to a 6-0 rout at Wolfsburg to drop from second place to fourth, behind Union on goal difference.
“It’s best if I say nothing, then I can’t say anything wrong,” Freiburg coach Christian Streich said.
Saturday’s results meant Bayern Munich stretched its lead to five points despite its drawing 1-1 in Leipzig on Friday. The 10-time defending champion is assured of being first at the halfway stage, earning the unofficial title of “fall champion.”
Since the introduction of three points for a win, Bayern has gone on to win the title 15 times from the 16 seasons it was leading at the halfway stage.
Eintracht Frankfurt moved to second after a 2-0 win over visiting Schalke, which remained on the bottom after just two wins all season.
Schalke’s 36th consecutive away game without a win in the Bundesliga set a new league record.
“It’s important not to stick our heads in the sand,” Schalke coach Thomas Reis said.
Bruno Labbadia’s debut in charge of Stuttgart ended in a draw against visiting Mainz 1-1.
“We know we have a marathon in front of us,” said Labbadia, whose team remains in the relegation zone, one point ahead of Hertha.
Cologne hosted Werder Bremen late.
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