GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany: Former German champions Werder Bremen boosted their hopes of avoiding relegation from the Bundesliga when a spectacular goal from Leonardo Bittencourt gave them a lifeline 1-0 win at Schalke 04 on Saturday.
The result left Werder in 17th place on 25 points from 28 games, two points behind 16th-placed Fortuna Duesseldorf, who occupy the relegation playoff spot and were playing leaders Bayern Munich in the late afternoon kickoff.
A lacklustre first half failed to produce any fireworks before Bittencourt, who was substituted at halftime, grabbed a potentially vital winner for Bremen in the 32nd minute when he unleashed a thunderbolt into the top corner from 25 metres.
The result left Schalke 10th on 37 points and extended their winless league run to 11 games. It was also their fourth successive defeat since the Bundesliga resumed on May 16 after it was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March.
The home side squandered two gilt-edged chances in the second half as Werder keeper Jiri Pavlenka denied Benito Raman with a superb reflex save before Michael Gregoritsch volleyed over the bar from 12 metres.
Bremen missed a sitter in the dying minutes as Yuya Osako tried to square the ball to Davy Klaassen when he had the chance to dink it over home keeper Alexander Nuebel from close range.
Bremen are at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday and then to Wolfsburg next Sunday, when Schalke visit Union Berlin.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Toby Davis)