Bremen boost survival hopes with win at Schalke

BERLIN (AFP) – Werder Bremen boosted their survival hopes in Germany’s top flight on Saturday night with a 1-0 win behind closed doors at Schalke, who are winless in 11 games and continue to plummet down the Bundesliga table.

Florian Kohfeldt-coached Bremen took a key step towards safety when midfielder Leonardo Bittencourt scored their first-half winner.

“This is a very, very important away win,” said Bremen coach Kohfeldt.

“We have taken seven points from the last three games, but if you look at the table, then you know how badly needed they are – we are still behind.”

Bremen have spent more seasons in the Bundesliga than any other club, but currently sit second from bottom in the table.

However, the victory leaves them just three points from guaranteed safety with six games left.

Werder Bremen’s midfielder Leonardo Bittencourt celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the Bundesliga match against Schalke. PHOTO: AFP

They are two points behind Duesseldorf, who lost to leaders Bayern Munich, in 16th, which carries a relegation play-off at the end of the season.

Bittencourt hit a stunning strike from just outside the box which beat Schalke’s Bayern-bound goalkeeper Alexander Nuebel into the top corner on 32 minutes.

“Even if it was a long-range shot, we absolutely deserved to lead at half-time,” said Kohfeldt after Bittencourt claimed his fourth goal of the season.

Schalke raised their game in the second half but succumbed to their fourth straight defeat and are now 11 league games without a win, piling pressure on head coach David Wagner.

Werder could climb out of the relegation places for the first time since December on Wednesday if they beat Eintracht Frankfurt at home.

“We have a great chance now,” added Kohfeldt.