Congolese-born captain Domi Kumbela gave Braunschweig the lead in the Lower Saxony derby before Norway striker Havard Nielsen made it 2-0 with a superb volley on 21 minutes.

Hanover were reduced to ten men when midfielder Andre Hoffmann was sent off on 62 minutes for a dangerous foul before Jan Hochscheidt scored the hosts' third just before the final whistle.

"That was an important three points and for our fans it's also an important emotional win," said Braunschweig's relieved coach Torsten Lieberknecht whose side face champions Bayern Munich in a fortnight.

The result leaves Braunschweig unbeaten in their last three games and just two points from safety, while Hanover are two points from the relegation mire after four straight defeats.

Later, mid-table Hoffenheim held Hertha Berlin to a 1-1 draw in the capital as Sami Allagui's early goal was cancelled out by Poland international's Eugen Polanski equaliser with half an hour gone.

Hoffenheim's Germany hopeful Kevin Volland was only denied the winning goal on the final whistle when his free-kick was palmed over the bar by Hertha goalkeeper Thomas Kraft.

On Saturday, champions Bayern Munich suffered their first league defeat since October 2012 as their record 53-match unbeaten run was ended by a 1-0 defeat at Augsburg.

Coach Pep Guardiola paid the price for naming a weakened team for the Bavarian derby with one eye on Wednesday's Champions League return leg at home to Manchester United.

The Spaniard made seven changes from the side which drew 1-1 at Manchester United last Tuesday in the quarter-final first leg.

Guardiola started with three teenagers in Augsburg, giving Bundesliga debuts to reserve team wing-backs Ylli Sallahi and Mitchell Weiser while Pierre-Emile Hoejbjerg was named on the left wing.

The gamble backfired when Weiser lost possession to Augsburg's Daniel Baier who fed Sascha Moelders and the striker blasted his shot past Bayern's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer with 31 minutes gone to claim the winning goal.

This was only Bayern's third defeat of the season in all competitions having already been confirmed Bundesliga champions ten days ago with a record seven games to spare.

- Dortmund's morale boosting win -

Second-placed Borussia Dortmund earned a morale-boosting 2-1 win at home to VfL Wolfsburg ahead of Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final, second-leg at home to Real Madrid.

After Croatia's Ivica Olic gave Wolves an early lead, a Robert Lewandowski header put Dortmund level before Germany winger Marco Reus hit the 77th-minute winner.

Borussia face a near-impossible task of overturning a 3-0 defeat from the first leg against Real to reach the Champions League's semi-finals.

Schalke 04 are now three points adrift of Dortmund in third as they came from behind to claim a 1-1 draw at Werder Bremen.

At the other end of the table, VfB Stuttgart improved their chances of avoiding relegation with a 2-0 win at home to Freiburg to escape the bottom three with goals by Romania's Alexandru Maxim and Austria's Martin Harnik.

Nuremberg drop to second from bottom after their 2-0 defeat at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach, who moved up to fourth and into the Champions League places at the expense of Bayer Leverkusen.

Leverkusen sacked coach Sami Hyypia on Saturday less than 24 hours after their 2-1 defeat at strugglers Hamburg which left them facing a battle to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Hyypia, who took on his first senior coaching role last August, has been replaced by Sascha Lewandowski, the head coach of Leverkusen's junior side, who has five games to rescue their Champions League status.