Bundesliga Column - Round 31: Derby win propels Dortmund closer to title

Round 31 of the 2011/12 Bundesliga season was about derbies in the west and the north of the country. While Dortmund won 2-1 away to Schalke to close in on defending their Bundesliga title, Mönchengladbach trashed FC Cologne 3-0 to keep their direct Champions League qualification hopes alive while Cologne's relegation worries grew even further and Hamburger SV scored a vital win against Hannover 96 in their fight to avoid relegation.

Borussia Dortmund just three days after winning against FC Bayern Munich had to dig deep to beat archrivals FC Schalke 2-1 in a closely contested Ruhr valley derby. With Bayern Munich only drawing goalless against 1.FSV Mainz 05 this derby win puts Dortmund eight points clear at the top with three matches to go and now remaining undefeated in their 25 straight game setting a new Bundesliga record.

In the race to avoid relegation Kaiserlautern are just one point away to confirm their 2.Bundesliga status next season. Another loss, this time 0-2 against 1.FC Nürnberg didn't help their cause. But Hertha BSC Berlin, who are in 17th place, fought back from two goals down against Bayer 04 Leverkusen to even go 3-2 ahead but they had to settle for a 3-3 draw which in their situation isn't enough.

FC Cologne went into the Rhine derby against Borussia Mönchengladbach under a new interim coach in Frank Schaefer, but they lost 0-3 to stay in the relegation playoff spot. But the gap to the teams above them widened then Hamburger SV won at home against Hannover 96, while FC Augsburg scored a surprise 2-1 away win to VfL Wolfsburg.

The Bundesliga title looks decided, the first relegated team is also clear but everything else is to play for with three rounds of matches remaining.

Round 31 Results

VfB Stuttgart 4-1 SV Werder Bremen
FC Schalke 04 1-2 Borussia Dortmund
Hamburger SV 1-0 Hannover 96
1.FC Kaiserslautern 0-2 1.FC Nürnberg
VfL Wolfsburg 1-2 FC Augsburg
Bayer 04 Leverkusen 3-3 Hertha BSC Berlin
FC Bayern München 0-0 1.FSV Mainz 05
Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-0 1.FC Köln
SC Freiburg 0-0 1899 Hoffenheim

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