Germany: Dortmund escapes Hoffenheim

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Mario Geotze knocked in the first goal of the day for Dortmund in the victory.

Mario Geotze knocked in the first goal of the day for Dortmund in the victory.

BERLIN (AP) -- Borussia Dortmund ended its three-game run without a victory in the Bundesliga by winning 3-1 at relegation-threatened Hoffenheim on Sunday.

Mario Goetze scored first for the defending champions when he unleashed an unstoppable effort from the left of the area through the legs of a defender with the ball flying inside the near post in the 26th minute.

Dortmund looked shaky in defense, however, with midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski filling in as a makeshift left back for Marcel Schmelzer, who was out with a sinus infection.

It was no surprise when Kevin Volland crossed for Sven Schipplock to nip in between two defenders to equalize in the 35th.

The visitors improved after the break. Marco Reus crossed for Kevin Grosskreutz to convert from close range in the 58th with Goetze having a hand in the buildup.

Robert Lewandowski settled the issue seven minutes later when he took the ball past the goalkeeper and finished with aplomb from a difficult angle, condemning Hoffenheim to its sixth straight loss.

"That was a show of spirit,'' Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp said.

Dortmund goes into the Bundesliga's winter break in third place, three points behind Bayer Leverkusen and 12 back from Bayern Munich.

"We have to do more in the second half of the season,'' said Dortmund defender Mats Hummels, who celebrated his 24th birthday Sunday. "There's no disquiet here, but we know that we ourselves have given away eight or nine points in the first half of the season. That's annoying.''

Hoffenheim, which sacked Markus Babbel as coach after its fourth straight loss, is mired in the relegation playoff place, seven points from safety.

Players held up a banner asking fans for support before the game, and they applauded supporters from the rain-soaked pitch afterward.

"The guys gave everything they had,'' said interim coach Frank Kramer. "You can't fault the team effort.''

Werder Bremen and Nuremberg drew 1-1 later Sunday, in a game that ended with players from both sides being restrained after a dramatic finale.

Nils Peterson equalized for Bremen with two minutes remaining, though Nuremberg's players protested furiously that the striker was offside when he deflected Kevin de Bruyne's effort past Raphael Schaefer. Television replays backed up their claims.

"I'm the last not to forgive (referees') mistakes, but when it happens again and again to a team, then you reach a point at which you say: that's enough!'' said Nuremberg coach Dieter Hecking.

Timo Gebhart had scored against the run of play for Nuremberg six minutes before, when Robert Mak eluded De Bruyne on the left and found Javier Pinola, who teed up Gebhart.

De Bruyne struck the post in both halves and Peterson hit the crossbar as the home side missed a host of chances, with 26 efforts on goal in all.

"We create so many chances and yet we leave the pitch so often without winning. That's our problem,'' said Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf. "It's important for us to use the chances that we get.''

Earlier Sunday, Schalke released Huub Stevens as coach after a run of six Bundesliga games without a win.