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Football: Huntelaar hits hat-trick on Schalke return

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Holland's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar celebrated his Bundesliga return after six weeks out with a knee injury by netting a hat-trick as Schalke 04 hammered Hamburg 4-1 on Sunday to keep the Royal Blues on course for a Champions League place.

After Hamburg took an early lead at the Veltins Arena through Germany's Marcel Jansen, Brazil midfielder Michel Bastos pulled a goal back before 'the Hunter' went on a goal-spree.

"The win was highly deserved, especially the margin," said Schalke coach Jens Keller.

"Huntelaar had worked hard in training and we're happy that he's back again.

"We have taken a small step towards consolidating our place."

Huntelaar, last season's top scorer in the German league, grabbed his first on 21 minutes, while two headers just eight minutes apart midway through the second-half wrapped up his hat-trick.

The win keeps Schalke fourth, which carries a Champions League play-off place, three points ahead of Eintracht Frankfurt, who were earlier held to a goalless draw at Mainz 05 earlier.

The defeat is a set-back to Hamburg's hopes of finishing in the top six as they suffered their third defeat in five games to leave them eighth as their defence crumbled in the second-half.

On Saturday, Bayern made ten changes from their Champions League semi-final, first leg 4-0 win over Barcelona, but still beat Freiburg 1-0 in Munich to break the record for the number of points in a Bundesliga season.

Centre-back Jerome Boateng was the only survivor from the starting line-up which blitzed Barcelona last Tuesday at the Allianz Arena as coach Jupp Heynckes rested his stars for Wednesday's return leg at the Camp Nou.

Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri hit the winner on 35 minutes to give Bayern, who were confirmed as champions three weeks ago, their 27th win from their 31 league games this season.

With 84 points, they have now passed Dortmund's previous record of 81, set last year, for the most Bundesliga points collected in a campaign.

It was also Heynckes's 50th Bundesliga victory since taking charge at Bayern in July 2011. His team are bidding to become the first German club to win the treble of European, league and cup titles.

Freiburg drop to sixth in the league but only two points separate the five teams bidding for fourth and that much sought-after Champions League place.

Second-placed Borussia Dortmund, who routed Real Madrid 4-1 last Wednesday in their Champions League semi-final, first leg, also made 10 changes for their 2-1 win at Fortuna Duesseldorf.

Poland star Robert Lewandowski, who hit four against Real, failed to score after coming off the bench for the last 20 minutes, bringing to an end his club record-run of having scored in 12 consecutive games.

Midfielder Nuri Sahin put Dortmund ahead with a stunning goal from 35 metres out before replacement Jakub Blaszczykowski added the second while Duesseldorf midfielder Adam Bodzek pulled a goal back with a header two minutes from time.

Bayer Leverkusen remain third with a 1-0 home win over Werder Bremen as Germany striker Stefan Kiessling netted a 35th-minute penalty which confirmed Bayer's Champions League place for next season.

Mid-table VfL Wolfsburg ran out 3-0 winners at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach, but the relegation battle heated up with two of the bottom three teams picking up wins.

After Friday's 3-2 defeat at home to Hanover 96, bottom side Greuther Fuerth's relegation was confirmed as 16th-placed Augsburg romped to a 3-0 win at home to German Cup finalists VfB Stuttgart.

Second-from-bottom Hoffenheim beat Nuremberg 2-1 to keep their survival hopes alive.

Fuerth, who host Freiburg in a fortnight, have now just one home match left to avoid becoming the first Bundesliga team to go an entire campaign without a single home victory.

ryj/bc

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130428/football-huntelaar-hits-hat-trick-schalke-return