Nilsson's brace powers Nurnberg past Mainz

A second-half brace from Per Nilsson led Nurnberg to a 2-1 home win over Mainz on Sunday, extending Nurnberg's unbeaten streak to nine games.

Mainz brought a seven-match unbeaten run of its own into the contest, and squandered a great opportunity to take the lead in the first half when Adam Szalai sent a penalty kick wide of the net after Nurnberg's Javier Pinola fouled Nicolai Muller.

It took until the 54th minute for Nilsson to break the deadlock as he got up to head home a free kick from Hiroshi Kiyotake, although Mainz responded within six minutes.

Nurnberg goalkeeper Raphael Schafer made a mistake in coming off his line to challenge Muller, who easily chipped the ball over the head of the onrushing goalkeeper.

But Nilsson spared Schafer's blushes with 20 minutes to play when he got on the other end of a flicked header from Hanno Balitsch to bundle the ball over the goal line from close range.

The result puts Nurnberg in the discussion for a place in the Europa League next season as the club trails sixth-place Eintracht by only four points.

Hannover 0, Stuttgart 0

Hannover, Germany - Hannover was unable to greatly improve its Europa League hopes on Sunday after being held to a 0-0 draw at home by Stuttgart.

Clear-cut chances were at a premium for both sides and it wasn't until the second half that either club really threatened.

Stuttgart played a defense-first style on Sunday, but midfielder Shinji Okazaki forced a save from Hannover goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler before a 30- yard effort from Alexandru Maxim sailed just over the crossbar.

Didier Ya Konan was the most dangerous player for Hannover, but he struggled to find the target on Sunday, leaving Hannover four points back of sixth-place Eintracht.