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Ten-man Leverkusen down Fortuna to go fourth
Ten-man Bayer Leverkusen moved up to fourth in the Bundesliga on Sunday with a 3-2 win over Fortuna Duesseldorf while Bayern Munich have opened a seven-point lead at the top of the league.
Despite having midfielder Simon Rolfes sent off for a dangerous tackle just 75 seconds after he came off the bench, Leverkusen took the three points to move into fourth and knocks defending champions Dortmund down to fifth.
"I put the ball too far in front of me and then committed a foul, but it was no more than yellow," said Rolfes whose red card was the second fastest in the Bundesliga's history after his rash tackle on Fortuna's Adam Bodzek.
"It's incredibly annoying that I can't play next week and it was completely unnecessary, but the important thing is that we won."
Leverkusen took the lead on 16 minutes through a goal by midfielder Sidney Sam, but Leverkusen levelled on 40 minutes after a header by Angola striker Nando Rafael.
Fortuna stayed level for barely a minute as Germany forward Andre Schuerrle put the hosts ahead at half-time after he followed up Sam's superb cross.
Leverkusen then lost Rolfes, who came on for Sam on 63 minutes when the ex-Germany star threw himself into a reckless tackle on Bodzek and the referee had no hesitation in showing him red.
Bayer responded immediately as Spanish right-back Daniel Carvajal charged down a pass, sprinted clear of the defence and squared to give Gonzalo Castro the simplest of tap ins on 67 minutes.
Bodzek pulled one back for the visitors with a superb strike from outside the penalty area on 86 minutes, but it was too little, too late.
After second-placed Schalke 04 suffered a shock 3-2 defeat at Hoffenheim on Saturday, while both Eintracht Frankfurt and Dortmund lost, Bayern Munich's 3-0 win at Hamburg means the Bavarians have a clear cushion at the top.
"It's been a very good round of matches for us. Naturally, we knew the other scores before kick-off and we were even more motivated," said Bayern goal-scorer Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Germany midfielders Thomas Mueller and Toni Kroos also got on the scoresheet to end Hamburg's previous run of four wins in six games while Munich warmed up for Wednesday's Champions League clash at home to Lille.
Frankfurt remain third after their 1-1 draw with Guerth Fuerth on Friday.
Defending champions Borussia Dortmund are fourth after they were held to a goalless draw by VfB Stuttgart.
Dortmund captain Sebastian Kehl will play with a mask in Tuesday's Champions League clash at Real Madrid after he broke his nose.
The 32-year-old has to be replaced with 20 minutes gones after taking a stray elbow in the face while challenging for a ball with Stuttgart's Raphael Holzhauser, who was given a yellow card.
Nuremberg won the battle of the basement teams as midfielder Timo Gebhart scored the winner with a 76th-minute header to move up to 14th and take some of the pressure off coach Dieter Hecking with their first win in seven games.
Hanover are sixth after their 2-0 win at home to Augsburg while Borussia Moenchengladbach were held to a 1-1 draw at their own ground by Freiburg.
Later on Sunday, mid-table Werder Bremen are home to seventh-placed Mainz 05.
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