Alassane Plea scored a quickfire hat-trick for Borussia Moenchengladbach in Saturday’s 3-1 win at Werder Bremen to roar to the top of the Bundesliga scoring charts.
The thumping win in Bremen keeps Gladbach second in the German league table, a point behind leaders Borussia Dortmund, who host defending champions Bayern Munich in the day’s mouth-watering clash at 1730 GMT.
Bayern sit third in the table, four points behind Dortmund and now three behind Gladbach.
Plea ran riot in Bremen, taking just 13 minutes to claim his hat-trick as the hosts suffered their third straight league defeat to drop further back in the title race to sit seventh.
The 23-million-euro ($26 million) signing from French side Nice beat Bremen striker Martin Harnik and playmaker Davy Klaassen to flick his shot into the bottom left hand corner on 39 minutes for his first goal.
His second followed when he fired through the legs of Bremen midfielder Maximilian Eggestein and goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka on 48 minutes.
Plea wrapped up his hat-trick just four minutes later when a precise pass from left-back Oscar Wendt picked him out in the area and he fired home his eighth league goal of the season from close range.
Ex-Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin pulled a goal back for Bremen, but the hosts’ defensive frailties again led them to defeat after the 6-2 thumping at home to Bayer Leverkusen and the 2-1 loss at Mainz.
Ten-man Hertha Berlin, who like Bremen have seen their title aspirations fall apart, crashed to a 3-1 defeat at struggling Fortuna Duesseldorf after winger Maximilian Mittelstaedt was sent off for a double yellow card in the first half.
Following Mittelstaedt’s dismissal, Fortuna profited with second-half goals by Japan striker Takashi Usami, forward Rouwen Hennings and midfielder Benito Raman, who netted twice, as Duesseldorf picked up their first league win since mid-September after six straight defeats.
However, they remain second from bottom after VfB Stuttgart also picked up a win as defender Timo Baumgartl and midfielder Erik Thommy crashed in second-half goals in a 2-0 win at Nuremberg.
English teenager Reiss Nelson scored the winner as Hoffenheim built on their 2-2 draw at Lyon in the Champions League in mid-week with a 2-1 win at home to Augsburg.
Andrej Kramaric’s opening goal for Hoffenheim was cancelled out by Augsburg’s Iceland striker Alfred Finnbogason mid-way through the second half.
Nelson, on loan from Arsenal, settled the matter with his sixth goal in seven league games just two minutes after coming on.
He fired into an empty net six minutes from time after great work from striker Adam Szalai.
Mainz are up to ninth after as they backed up last weekend’s win over Bremen with a 3-1 victory at Freiburg as Ivory Coast forward Jean-Philippe Gbamin, French striker Jean-Philippe Mateta and Austria’s Karim Onisiwo scored their goals.