Stuttgart maintain title assault at Schalke

BERLIN - VfB Stuttgart snatched a 2-1 win at Schalke 04 on Wednesday to move back within two points of the lead with two games to play in a gripping finale to the Bundesliga season. Goals from Cacau and Ciprian Marica, either side of a curling free kick equaliser from Ivan Rakitic, saw Stuttgart to a victory that leaves them still with a fighting chance. VfL Wolfsburg lead on goal difference from champions Bayern Munich, with both on 63 points from 32 matches. Hertha Berlin are third on 62 with Stuttgart a point and a place further back. "This was hugely important because now we can play without any pressure," said Stuttgart coach Markus Babbel, whose team have only lost one league match since he took over last November and face Bayern on the final day of the season. "We will play like that against Cottbus and see what we can get in our last match against Bayern Munich," he told reporters. Two goals from Ivica Olic and another from Paolo Guerrero gave Hamburg a 3-1 win over VfL Bochum to lift them to 58 points in fifth place, still with hopes of a European spot after a disappointing few weeks. Werder Bremen, who eliminated Hamburg from the UEFA Cup and German Cup semi-finals, continued their recent good run with a 5-0 demolition of 10-man hosts Eintracht Frankfurt. IN-FORM FRINGS Torsten Frings scored twice in five minutes, the first from a penalty after Patrick Ochs was sent off, and the second from long range. Alexandros Tziolis headed in their third before strikers Claudio Pizarro and Hugo Almeida completed the rout. Borussia Moenchengladbach needed a stoppage time goal from Dante to beat relegation rivals Energie Cottbus 1-0 and go a long way towards securing their spot in the Bundesliga next season. It was their second last-gasp win in a row after beating Schalke with a 90th minute strike last week. Stuttgart made light of the absence of injured top scorer Mario Gomez against Schalke, taking an early lead with a thundering 18-metre drive from Cacau before Croatian Rakitic levelled shortly before the break. Kevin Kuranyi and Jefferson Farfan missed from close range for Schalke before Kuranyi went closer still with a header that hit the post. Schalke were punished in the 57th minute when Marica, who started in place of Gomez, grabbed the winner from close range after keeper Manuel Neuer failed to clear a Thomas Hitzlsperger shot.