New Eintracht Frankfurt coach Nico Kovac suffered a debut to forget with a 3-0 loss at fourth-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach sucking the Bundesliga strugglers further into a relegation dogfight on Saturday.
Second bottom Hoffenheim boosted their hopes of avoiding the drop with a 1-0 win over VfL Wolfsburg which puts them level on points with Eintracht, who occupy the relegation play-off spot with eight games left.
Bottom side Hannover look doomed however after their 2-0 home defeat by Cologne while Augsburg came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at fellow strugglers Darmstadt.
VfB Stuttgart also fought back to draw 3-3 at Ingolstadt in the other early kick-off before leaders Bayern Munich welcome Werder Bremen in Saturday's late game.
Former Croatia boss Kovac, a Bundesliga stalwart as a player, took over at Eintracht in midweek after Armin Veh's departure following seven games without a win.
But with leading scorer Alex Meier still injured, the away side rarely threatened and it was little surprise when Gladbach opened the scoring on 36 minutes.
Lars Stindl slammed home via a deflection after Lukas Hradecky's ill-judged punch following a free kick.
The goalkeeper's day got worse early in the second half when he ran out of his area only to completely miskick his clearance and Raffael was able to curl the ball into the empty net.
"We were too passive in the first half. We had too many simple mistakes," Kovac told Sky.
"Everything went against us today but we've got to pick ourselves up."
Mahmoud Dahoud added a third as Gladbach moved in to fourth and the Champions League play-off spot. They leapfrogged Schalke, who lost 2-0 at third-placed Hertha Berlin on Friday.
Mainz can snatch fourth when they travel to Borussia Dortmund in second on Sunday when Bayer Leverkusen also host fellow midtable side SV Hamburg.
Hoffenheim, managed by 28-year-old Julian Nagelsmann, pulled themselves up to 24 points alongside Eintracht after Croatia striker Andrej Kramaric netted after just three minutes at home to Wolfsburg.
It should have been 2-0 in the second period but Wolfsburg reserve keeper Koen Casteels redeemed himself for conceding a penalty when he saved Kevin Volland's central effort.
The visitors reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time on Tuesday but their inconsistent Bundesliga form continued with Hoffenheim dealing easily with their sporadic and lethargic attacks.
Hoffenheim are now just three points off fourth-bottom Darmstadt, who dominated the first half against Augsburg but somehow let the three points slip.
Hosts Darmstadt took the lead after 12 minutes when Mario Vrancic netted on the rebound after a weak parry from Marwin Hitz. Sandro Wagner doubled their lead with a brave diving header from a corner before Markus Feulner pulled one back.
Augsburg, fifth last term, then had a leveller ruled out for a debateable push before Koo Ja Cheol went down dramatically in the box and Iceland's Alfred Finnbogason converted the 90th minute spot-kick.
Augsburg stayed level on points with their opponents but with a better goal difference.
Hanover slipped seven points adrift at the bottom and must be planning for the second tier after another pathetic display in their 19th defeat of the season.
Kenan Karaman went close for the bereft home side in the first half but just before the interval, Cologne broke the deadlock with Leonardo Bittencourt finishing off a swift move.
He scored his second for the ninth-placed side on the hour after Karaman was too easily dispossessed.
An exciting midtable scrap in Ingolstadt ended with a superb late rally from Stuttgart.
Moritz Hartmann smashed home after a defensive mix-up on four minutes but Stuttgart levelled soon after when Filip Kostic broke clear and finished calmly.
A close-range header from Australian Mathew Leckie put Ingolstadt 2-1 ahead before a perfect Dario Lezcano free kick looked to have secured the points but Stuttgart duo Lukas Rupp and Daniel Didavi were their saviours yet again with two late goals for the draw.
Saturday, February 13, 2016 - 20:22
Saturday, February 6, 2016 - 20:34
Saturday, October 1, 2016 - 20:25