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Bremen battle back to lead Bundesliga

Per Mertesacker celebrates after scoring the late goal that put Werder Bremen on top on goal difference.
Per Mertesacker celebrates after scoring the late goal that put Werder Bremen on top on goal difference.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Werder Bremen go top of Bundesliga on goal difference after 2-2 draw with Wolfsburg
  • Per Mertesacker nets late equalizer as Bremen twice come from behind at home
  • Schalke miss the chance to take first place after losing 1-0 at Borussia Monchengladbach
  • Hamburg in fourth place after drawing 1-1 away to promoted Mainz
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(CNN) -- Werder Bremen edged to the top of the German Bundesliga after being held 2-2 at home by defending champions Wolfsburg on Saturday, while Schalke missed the chance to go to the summit after an away defeat.

Bremen twice came from behind to snatch a point from the northern derby which put them first on goal difference from Bayer Leverkusen, who hosts struggling Stuttgart on Sunday.

Schalke were left in third place, two points back on 25 after 14 matches, losing 1-0 at Borussia Monchengladbach in the late game.

Wolfsburg took the lead through striker Edin Dzeko in the 42nd minute as he brushed off Sebastian Boenisch and Naldo before placing a shot past goalkeeper Tim Wiese.

Home striker Hugo Almeida replied in the 62nd minute after Naldo had an effort cleared off the line for the second time in the match, but Bosnia star Dzeko made it 2-1 with five minutes to go from Karim Ziani's quickly-taken free-kick.

However, Per Mertesacker extended Bremen's unbeaten run to 21 matches as he headed Mesut Ozil's corner past goalkeeper Diego Benaglio in stoppage time.

The result left Wolfsburg in seventh place, one point ahead of Bayern Munich, who travel to Hannover on Sunday.

Felix Magath's Schalke side went to Monchengladbach with the second-best away record in the league, but went home empty-handed thanks to a fifth-minute goal from Marco Reus -- who ended the hosts' run of 343 minutes without scoring.

Gladbach moved six points clear of the relegation zone after extending their unbeaten run to five matches.

Hamburg moved up to fourth ahead of Hoffenheim despite conceding a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw at Mainz.

The hosts almost led in the second minute when Aristide Bance's shot was pushed onto a post by keeper Frank Rost, and Hamburg scored almost immediately at the other end as Tunay Torun netted from just inside the box after combining well with Eljero Elia.

Elia joined the club's lengthy casualty list when he was stretchered off with an ankle injury, then Piotr Trochowski cleared Bance's close-range header off the line.

Tim Hoogland earned a point from close range in the 86th minute goal after a goalmouth scramble to keep his promoted side unbeaten at home this season.

Hoffenheim lost 2-1 at home to Borussia Dortmund, having Maicosuel sent off soon after Nuri Sahin's decisive 78th-minute penalty.

Bottom club Hertha Berlin suffered a 3-1 home defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, while Stefan Reisinger's 12th-minute goal gave Freiburg a 1-0 win at fellow strugglers Nuremberg.