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Mainz: Schalke 04’s poor Bundesliga form continued yesterday as the Royal Blues had to twice come from behind for a 2-2 draw at Mainz ahead of their Champions League trip to Istanbul’s Galatasaray.
While leaders Bayern Munich show no sign of releasing their iron grip on the Bundesliga after picking up their 18th win in 22 matches with a 2-0 win at VfL Wolfsburg on Friday, Schalke’s league slump continues.
Schalke face the Turkish league leaders on Wednesday in the Champions League last 16, first-leg clash having dropped from second to eighth with just one win in their last 11 games, conceding 25 goals in the process -- the league’s worst record.
Brazil midfielder Michel Bastos scored both Schalke’s goals, but his team struggled again having been thumped 4-0 by Bayern last weekend.
The Royal Blues fell behind when Mainz midfielder Nicolai Mueller’s run evaded three Schalke defenders before Austria’s Andreas Ivanschitz converted his pass on 27 minutes.
Bastos hit his first for Schalke 14 minutes later, but Mainz went 2-1 up on 63 minutes when Czech defender Zdenek Pospech fired home.
The Brazilian again rescued his team’s blushes with an 82nd-minute equaliser for his third goal in three games since joining from Lyon in January when he calmly fired home having been left in space.
While Schalke move up from 10th to eighth, the pressure remains on coach Jens Keller, who has just one win in his six games in charge since succeeding Huub Stevens, who was fired in December.
Bayer Leverkusen took the chance to claim second from the defending champions with a 2-1 win at home to relegation-threatened Augsburg.
The three points leaves Leverkusen second, but 16 points adrift of Bayern.
Germany striker Stefan Kiessling scored the opening goal in the first-half to join Bayern’s Mario Mandzukic on 15 as the league’s top scorer.
Kiessling then turned provider when he set up national team-mate Lars Bender to fire home on 75 minutes for the second.
Second-bottom Augsburg scored a late consolation effort, but the Bavarians remain 10 points from safety.
Dutch midfielder Rafael van der Vaart scored his first goal for Hamburg since May 2008 with a spectacular 24th-minute thunderbolt of a strike from outside the area to secure a 1-0 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach to move his team up to sixth.
Freiburg are fifth, and amongst the European places, with a 3-2 win at Werder Bremen. AFP