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Rediff.com  » Sports » Bundesliga: Huntelaar sends Schalke into Champions League

Bundesliga: Huntelaar sends Schalke into Champions League

Last updated on: April 29, 2012 16:40 IST

Bundesliga leading scorer Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored twice and Raul was also on target in his last home appearance as Schalke 04 thumped woeful Hertha Berlin 4-0 on Saturday to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Schalke guaranteed third place in the Bundesliga after Borussia Moenchengladbach, the only team who could have overhauled them, were held 0-0 at home by Augsburg on the penultimate day of the season.

Forward Lucas Barrios, left on the bench for most of the season, scored a hat-trick as Borussia Dortmund, crowned champions last week, celebrated with a 5-2 win at relegated Kaiserslautern, their 27th league game without defeat.

Paraguay forward Barrios, a key figure for Dortmund when they won the title last season, has fallen out of favour with the emergence of Robert Lewandowski this term and was making only his third start of the campaign.

Gladbach guaranteed fourth place and a spot in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League, a remarkable achievement after they were nearly relegated last season.

Augsburg, 15th in the table, made sure of top flight football next season as did Hamburg, the only ever-present team since the Bundesliga was founded in 1963, with a goalless draw at home to Mainz.

HuntelaarHertha, 17th and in the danger zone, were given a stay of execution when Cologne, two points above them in the relegation playoff spot, were thumped 4-1 at Freiburg.

Mensur Mujdza, Karim Guede, Daniel Caligiuri and Sebastian Freis shared the goals for Freiburg as they took full advantage of Cologne's notoriously leaky defence which has conceded 71 league goals this term.

Lukas Podolski replied for the Billy Goats early in the second half.

Hertha and Cologne will now battle to decide who goes straight down and who plays off over two legs against the third-placed side from the second division.

Hertha, promoted last season, host mid-table Hoffenheim in their final game and Cologne face Bayern Munich.

Champions League finalists Bayern, who will finish as runners-up, beat VfB Stuttgart 2-0 with Mario Gomez scoring his 26th league goal of the season, one behind Huntelaar.

Gomez's goal was typically opportunist as he turned the ball into an empty net after a run by Thomas Mueller who added the second late in the game for the Bavarians.

Patrick Helmes scored twice to give 2009 champions Vfl Wolfsburg a 3-1 home win over Werder Bremen while Nuremberg won 3-2 at Hoffenheim, helped by a brace from Czech forward Thomas Pekhart.

HERTHA OUTCLASSED

Schalke, Champions League semi-finalists last season, will be in Europe's showpiece competition for the fifth time.

"Schalke were better than us in every department," said Hertha's 73-year-old coach Otto Rehhagal. "We could see why they are in the Champions League and we are fighting relegation."

"Getting to the Champions League is another challenge for our young team," said Schalke's Dutch coach Huub Stevens.

Schalke met little resistance and went ahead in the 32nd minute when Joel Matip burst through their midfield and found Huntelaar, who slotted the ball under Thomas Kraft from the edge of the area.

The Dutchman should have added to his tally when he headed against the foot of the post, then shot wide from six metres just after the break.

Raul and Jefferson Farfan also missed chances before Lewis Holtby added the second in the 72nd minute, finishing off a move that began with a long punt upfield by goalkeeper Lars Unnerstall.

Former Real Madrid and Spain forward Raul, who is leaving the club at the end of the season after two years, scrambled in the third at the far post following a corner before Huntelaar slid in to turn home Farfan's free kick for the fourth.

Dortmund made a bad start in Kaiserslautern when defender Felipe Santana turned the ball into his own net in the 16th minute.

But less than 20 minutes later the irrepressible champions were 3-1 ahead thanks to two goals from Barrios and one from Mario Goetze, making his first start after a three-month injury layoff due to a stress fracture of the pubic bone.

Pierre De Wit pulled one back for the hosts in the 49th minute only for Barrios to complete his hat-trick six minutes later after pouncing on a blunder by goalkeeper Tobias Sippel. Ivan Perisic added the fifth in the 76th minute.

Source:
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