Sweden striker Robin Quaison hit a hat-trick as Mainz beat 10-man Hertha Berlin 3-1 in the capital on Saturday to push Jurgen Klinsmann’s side towards the Bundesliga relegation spots.
Hertha have just one win in their five games in all competitions in 2020 under ex-Germany and USA head coach Klinsmann, who took charge last November.
Klinsmann, 55, blamed the defeat on Hertha’s midweek German Cup loss at Schalke, which was marred by alleged racist abuse aimed at Hertha defender Jordan Torunarigha by home fans.
“For us, this is disappointing, but it is understandable – it has been a very intensive week,” said Klinsmann.
“After ten minutes, I saw that the boys’ heads were down. It’s all been a bit much in the last few days.
“That’s not an excuse. The boys will take two days off and we meet again on Tuesday.”
Hertha splashed out 80 million euros ($87.5 million) in the January transfer window on new recruits including strikers Krzysztof Piatek from AC Milan and Matheus Cunha from RB Leipzig.
However, Quaison ran riot at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium with goals either side of half-time before claiming a hat-trick by converting a late penalty.
At the other end, Piatek and his Hertha strike partner Pascal Koepke struggled to create goal chances.
Hertha’s only consolation was an own goal by Mainz defender Jeffrey Bruma just before Berlin midfielder Marius Wolf was sent off for a second yellow card soon before the final whistle.
Having also been drubbed 4-0 by leaders Bayern Munich in January, Hertha are now 14th in the table, two places from the relegation spots.
– Schalke stumble –
In Gelsenkirchen, Schalke’s title aspirations suffered a dent in a 1-1 draw at home to bottom side Paderborn.
With league leaders Bayern Munich hosting second-placed RB Leipzig in Sunday’s showdown, fifth-placed Schalke are now seven points from top spot.
Schalke’s arch rivals Borussia Dortmund can climb to second, and draw level with Bayern on 42 points, if they win later at Bayer Leverkusen.
Schalke took a second-half lead when youth academy product Ahmed Kutucu, 19, came on as a substitute and fired home from a tight angle.
But Paderborn took a point when midfielder Klaus Gjasula equalised with a late header.
— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) February 8, 2020
Werder Bremen are now deep in the relegation places after a 2-0 home defeat to mid-table Union Berlin.
Second-half goals by Union winger Marius Buelter did the damage, combined with Mainz’s win at Hertha Berlin, to leave Bremen 17th and four points from safety.
Bremen’s 37-year-old head coach Florian Kohfeldt is under pressure after seven defeats in 10 games.
His cause was not helped as Fortuna Duesseldorf picked up a point to move above Bremen by drawing 1-1 at ten-man Wolfsburg.
Duesseldorf took an early lead when winger Mathias Zimmermann fired into the bottom corner.
Wolfsburg had defender Marin Pongracic sent off just after the break for elbowing Alfredo Morales at a free-kick.
Despite being a man down, Wolfsburg drew level three minutes later as midfielder Renato Steffen headed home.
Mid-table Freiburg rebounded from back-to-back defeats with a 1-0 win over Hoffenheim, thanks to a first-half penalty by striker Luca Waldschmidt at the Schwarzwald Stadion.