Takahara hat-trick lifts Eintracht Frankfurt in Bundesliga

Dec 3, 2006 - 9:47 PM AACHEN, Germany (Ticker) - Naohiro Takahara scored a hat-trick as Eintracht Frankfurt condemned Alemannia Aachen to a 3-2 defeat on Sunday.

The hosts, who have not won in eight games as they plummet towards the relegation zone, had Jan Schlaudraff and Cristian Fiel on target but it was not enough as Japan international Takahara took centre stage.

Eintracht took the lead after 14 minutes, Alexander Meier leading a swift counterattack which culminated in Takahara firing a powerful shot past home keeper Kristian Nicht from the edge of the area.

Takahara almost made it 2-0 on the half-hour mark but his low drive was blocked by Nicht's legs. Having spent much of the opening 30 minutes on the back foot, Aachen then burst forward and equalized.

Fiel's header from a Matthias Lehmann corner was well saved by Eintracht keeper Markus Proll but the ball fell nicely for Schlaudraff to knock home.

Sergio Pinto forced Proll into a fine save minutes later as the hosts finally began to assert themselves.

But just as they did, Takahara struck again with a crisp finish after Meier had crossed into the box.

And the Far East hitman completed his treble after 61 minutes with another fine goal. Albert Streit picked out Takahara inside the area and the striker escaped defenders Nico Herzig and Alexander Klitzpera before firing into the net.

The home side did pull one back with nine minutes to go, Fiel hammering home a loose ball, but Eintracht held on to move up to eighth in the table.

Aachen are languishing in 14th, just two places and one point above the relegation zone.

In Nuremberg, Schalke fell short in their bid for a fifth successive Bundesliga victory as they were held to a goalless draw by Nurnberg.

The league's form team came into the game with 13 points from their last five games and a chance to go top, but while their unbeaten run continues, they were somewhat lucky to keep it in tact as they were second best at the EasyCredit Stadion.

Nurnberg made their attacking intentions clear in the first minute when Jan Kristiansen shot narrowly wide from range.

Kevin Kuranyi went close with a header for Schalke in the ninth minute, but it was the hosts who had the bulk of the chances.

Robert Vittek beat three defenders before firing into the arms of Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and Ivan Saenko then had a shot charged down by Mladen Krstajic.

Christan Pander then made a vital interception as Vittek readied himself to send Kristiansen's cross goalwards.

Moments later, Nurnberg defender Michael Beauchamp headed narrowly over from Kristiansen's corner.

There was a rare chance for Schalke in the 24th minute, but Kuranyi - again with his head - could only find Nurnberg goalkeeper Raphael Schafer from close range.

Nurnberg continued to race forward in the second half, seeking to capitalize on their dominance in possession.

In the 61st minute, Markus Schroth set up Saenko and Neuer could only fist his fizzing shot away. Kristiansen then had a sight of goal but missed the target from 20 yards.

However, it would end goalless as neither side created another clear-cut opening.

The result leaves Schalke level on points with leaders Werder Bremen although they have a vastly inferior goal difference.

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