Wolfsburg close in on Champions League place

(REUTERS) - Kevin De Bruyne set VfL Wolfsburg on the way to an easy 3-0 Bundesliga win over lowly Freiburg on Sunday that moved them closer to a place in the Champions League next season.

The Wolves strengthened their grip on second spot with 53 points from 25 games, nine clear of Borussia Moenchengladbach who went back into third place with an equally straightforward 2-0 victory over Hanover 96 in Sunday's other game.

Wolfsburg remained 11 points behind runaway leaders Bayern Munich who thumped Werder Bremen 4-0 on Saturday.

The Wolves showed no signs of fatigue following their Europa League triumph over Inter Milan on Thursday and took the lead in the 19th minute when De Bruyne wrongfooted two defenders before shooting inside goalkeeper Roman Buerki's near post.

Wolfsburg 'keeper Diego Benaglio brilliantly tipped over a powerful drive from Christian Guenter in the 37th minute to keep his side ahead at halftime.

But they had to wait until the last 12 minutes to ensure the three points with Belgium's De Bruyne involved in both goals.

Wolfsburg were awarded a penalty in the 78th minute when Buerki fouled De Bruyne and Rodriguez sent his fellow Swiss the wrong way from the spot. De Bruyne then laid the third on a plate for Maximilian Arnold six minutes later.

Second from bottom Freiburg remained stuck in the relegation zone with 22 points.

Patrick Herrmann scored both goals as Moenchengladbach moved back into the top three positions that earn a Champions League group stage place.

Herrmann turned in Thorgan Hazard's cross two minutes before halftime and he was also left with an easy task of tapping in Max Kruse's square ball in the 75th minute to complete the win.

Hanover, who have not won since the winter break, were left in 13th place and only four points clear of the relegation playoff spot.