Bayer Leverkusen reclaimed second place in the Bundesliga with a 3-1 away win over bottom side Borussia Monchengladbach on Sunday.
Nine days after being dismantled 3-1 by league-leaders Borussia Dortmund, Leverkusen took the lead after 37 minutes when Michal Kadlec fired a stunning free-kick past an outstretched Christofer Heimeroth in the Monchengladbach goal.
Gonzalo Castro made it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time when he headed home a cross from Arturo Vidal at Borussia-Park.
Germany captain Michael Ballack came off the substitute’s bench for Leverkusen 10 minutes after the restart, his first appearance since fracturing a shinbone in September.
Monchengladbach pulled a goal back after 65 minutes thanks to a Martin Stranz strike, but eight minutes later Castro lobbed Heimeroth for his second goal to secure the win.
Leverkusen are now 11 points behind Dortmund ahead of their home clash with Hannover on Friday.
In Sunday’s other game, a last-gasp goal from Hoffenheim midfielder David Alaba helped rescue a point for his side in their 2-2 draw with St Pauli at Rhein-Neckar-Arena.
Hoffenheim took the lead after half an hour when Marvin Compper shot home from close range, but second-half goals to Max Kruse and Gerald Asamoah gave St Pauli a 2-1 lead with nine minutes to play.
With time ticking away, Alaba fired a left-foot shoot past St Pauli goalkeeper Thomas Kessler to deny the visitors a win that would have lifted them out of the relegation zone.
Instead they remain in 16th position on goal difference, level on 19 points with their next opponents – 15th-placed Cologne.
The point lifts Hoffenheim to eighth place and they next face ninth-placed Schalke on Saturday.