Berlin, Mar 12: Claudio Pizarro scored one goal and set up another for Werder Bremen to beat Hannover 3-0 on Sunday, and Schalke stretched its unbeaten run at home in the Bundesliga to eight games with a 3-1 win over Hamburger SV.
Hannover missed a host of early chances to take the lead. Didier Ya Konan was denied from close range by Tim Wiese before the ball was cleared off the line, the goalkeeper got the better of Christian Rausch, before Lars Stindl missed with the goal at his mercy.
Pizarro, who had earlier brought a great save from Ron-Robert Zieler, made the visitors pay when he scored his 16th goal of the season in the 31st minute. The Peruvian striker moved ahead of his marker to guide in Mehmet Ekici's cross from the right.
“I was afraid that one chance would be enough for Pizarro, and so it was,” Hannover coach Mirko Slomka said.
Ekici's cross from a free kick in a similar position allowed Sebastian Proedl to make it 2-0 with a header in the 49th. Pizarro then sent Markus Rosenberg through to slot the ball under Zieler's legs seven minutes later.
But the Peruvian may yet be in trouble for a slap on Emanuel Pogatetz that was picked up by TV cameras.
“I was trying to push his hand away. I never wanted (to slap him),” Pizarro said. “I apologized to him afterward.”
Bremen remains sixth, in the last European place, while Hannover is four points behind in seventh place.
Schalke consolidated fourth place, the Champions League playoff spot, while Hamburg drops dangerously close to the relegation zone.
Teemu Pukki scored with the hosts' first chance when Atsuto Uchida crossed for the Finn to head beyond Hamburg goalkeeper Jaroslav Drobny in the fifth minute.
U.S. international Jermaine Jones should have doubled the lead 20 minutes later but shot straight at Drobny after being played through by Klaas Jan Huntelaar.
Schalke scored from the resulting corner, however, Christoph Metzelder being allowed plenty of space to rifle a shot past the goalkeeper.
Huntelaar and Hamburg captain Heiko Westermann tussled in the penalty area before a corner and referee Wolfgang Stark pointed to the penalty spot when the Dutchman fell.
“I don't know what the referee saw. Huntelaar ran by me and fell. It's ridiculous,” said Westermann, a former Schalke player.
Huntelaar brushed himself off and finished emphatically for his 19th goal of the season in the 33rd.
Gojko Kacar pulled one back for the visitors before the break, the Serbian's volley giving Schalke goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand no chance.
Either side could have scored in the final two minutes, when Drobny again denied Jones, before Hamburg had two efforts cleared off the line.
“I think Hamburg player better than we did, but we used our chances,” Schalke coach Huub Stevens said after his side's first win at home over Hamburg since 2004.
Bayern Munich thrashed Hoffenheim 7-1 on Saturday to close the gap on leader Borussia Dortmund, which drew 0-0 at Augsburg, to five points at the top.