Berlin (AFP) – Lukasz Piszczek saved Borussia Dortmund’s blushes with the winner in a 2-1 victory at 10-man Werder Bremen on Saturday to lift them up to fourth in the Bundesliga.

A Dortmund side missing predator Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang trail leaders Bayern Munich by 12 points, but climbed up from sixth with their first league win since the start of December.

“We missed the chance to go 2-0 up in the opening quarter of an hour and then lost control of the game for no apparent reason,” said Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.

“Perhaps we have to acknowledge that we aren’t so stable this year, but it feels good to start (2017) with a win.”

On Friday, Robert Lewandowski’s 91st-minute strike sealed Bayern’s 2-1 comeback win at Freiburg which left them six points clear of second-placed RB Leipzig, who host Eintracht Frankfurt later on Saturday.

Germany forward Andre Schuerrle and Poland defender Piszczek netted for Dortmund after Fin Bartels’ second-half equaliser for Bremen, who had goalkeeper Jaroslav Drobny sent off in the first half.

With the league’s top scorer Aubameyang away on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Gabon, Schuerrle started as striker for Dortmund.

He scored after just five minutes for his first competitive goal since the late equaliser in Dortmund’s 2-2 Champions League draw with Real Madrid in September.

Bremen had Drobny sent off on 39 minutes when his outstretched foot made contact with Marco Reus’s hip when the Germany winger was through on goal. 

With Drobny off, Bremen’s all-time top-scorer, striker Claudio Pizarro, was substituted for reserve goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald.

But Bremen rallied, rattling Dortmund’s crossbar at the end of the first half through captain Clemens Fritz from the edge of the area.

Despite the numerical disadvantage Bremen equalised when Bartels sprinted between Dortmund defenders Erik Durm and Sokratis Papastathopoulos to fire home on 59 minutes.

Tuchel responded by bringing on winger Ousmane Dembele and Portugal international Raphael Guerreiro.

The move paid off as Dembele won a corner and Guerreiro’s shot was charged down, but Piszczek tapped the looping ball over Wiedwald on 71 minutes.

– Hoffenheim extend run –

Hoffenheim, the only team still unbeaten in Germany’s top flight this season, went third with a 2-0 win at Augsburg.

Sandro Wagner, Hoffenheim’s top scorer, claimed his 11th league goal this season when the robust striker held off Augsburg defender Martin Hinteregger to slot home on 47 minutes before Andrej Kramaric added a second.

New signing Guido Burgstaller enjoyed a dream debut for Schalke as the Austria striker netted their 92nd-minute winner in a 1-0 win over Ingolstadt which lifted the Royal Blues to ninth.

Another new recruit, France international Paul-Georges Ntep, played a key role on his Wolfsburg debut in their 1-0 home victory over Hamburg.

The visitors had Sweden international Albin Ekdal sent off for a second yellow card on 33 minutes for a reckless tackle on Ntep.

The left winger then set up the winner by charging into the area before presenting Germany’s Mario Gomez with a tap-in on 83 minutes to leave Wolfsburg 12th and ease the pressure on coach Valerien Ismael.

Darmstadt’s new coach, ex-Germany midfielder Torsten Frings, earned a point at home for the league’s bottom team as they held Borussia Moenchengladbach to a goalless draw.