BERLIN, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Relegation threatened Stuttgart upset third placed Schalke 3-1 while Emir Spahic's brace helped Leverkusen secure their fourth place at Nuremberg to close the 31st round on Sunday.
Martin Harnik's brace eased Stuttgart's relegation worries as the Swabians established a four-point gap clear of the Bundesliga relegation zone thanks to a crucial 3-1 home win over third placed Schalke. The "Royal Blues" lacked in inspiration whereas Stuttgart earned two second half goals.
Both sides were unable to work out goal scoring opportunities in the opening period therefore threatening chances remained a rare occurrence. However, Stuttgart utilized their first chance through Martin Harnik, who overcame Schalke custodian Ralf Faehrmann with a header following a dead ball by Daniel Didavi at the 23rd minute. Schalke's Klaas Jan Huntelaar missed a cross inside the box to leave the last chance unused before the break.
After the restart Stuttgart caught Schalke on the hop with two quick goals. Cacau nodded home an assist by Ibrahima Traore to make it two at the 54th minute before Harnik wrapped up his second goal of the day five minutes later.
Schalke scored their consolation at the 69th minute through Adam Szalai to spark hopes although their efforts remained fruitless as Stuttgart ran down the clock to reap the eighth win of the season. With the result the "VfB" stay on 16th position with 31 points whilst Schalke remain on third place with 58 points.
Leverkusen inflicted Nuremberg the fourth straight loss to increase the relegation worries of the "Club" that sit on second to last position with only three rounds to play. Nuremberg pulled one back at the first half but they were hapless when Leverkusen gained momentum to score three second goals.
The "Werkself" grabbed the lead on the road at the 16th minute when Emir Spahic scored with a one-timer from outside of the box. Nuremberg remained unfazed and responded just ten minutes later as Marvin Plattenhardt restored parity with a free kick hammer into the bottom left corner from 25 meters.
The visitors had the better chances to break the tie since Gonzalo Castro rattled the woodwork with his free kick curl. However, Leverkusen had to wait until the 48th minute to regain the lead when Sebastian Boenisch scored his first goal of the season.
Nuremberg failed to put up some resistance in the closing period meanwhile Leverkusen were not done with the scoring. Spahic sealed his brace at the 80th minute after he capitalised on a solo run and square pass by Heung Min Son. Robert Hilbert rounded off the 4-1 victory and Leverkusen's 17th win of the season with three minutes remaining.
Nuremberg stayed on 17th position with 26 points whilst Leverkusen defended their fourth-place, a UEAF Champions League play off spot.