Raffael struck twice within five minutes late in the game as Borussia Moenchengladbach ended a run of three games without victory by beating lowly SV Hamburg 3-1 in the Bundesliga on Friday night.
The Brazilian was on target in the 74th and 79th minute, and also set up their early opening goal from Thorgan Hazard, with former Gladbach player Andre Hahn on target for the temporary equaliser.
Gladbach rose to fourth place as they ended the first half of the season with a first league win in six meetings with Hamburg.
Hamburg are third-last and will hibernate in the danger zone in yet another difficult season in which they want to avoid a first-ever drop.
“We got through a difficult phase and showed all our class after the 2-1, in fighting and footballing terms,” Gladbach captain Lars Stindl told ZDF television.
Hahn said: “We invest a lot, but then make too many mistakes and invite the opponent to score. That makes it difficult to win games.”
Having earned just one point in the last three games, Gladbach started furiously against Hamburg.
English youngster Reece Oxford fired against the crossbar in the sixth and Hazard chipped home for 1-0 off Raffael into the far left corner.
Hamburg woke up, and Mergim Mavraj’s header was cleared on the goal-line by Stindl before Jannik Vestergaard barely managed to block Hahn’s shot.
But the half ended with Gladbach’s Michael Cuisance curling against the left post, and Hazard failed to get their second on the counter in the 52nd, denied by goalkeeper Christian Mathenia.
That backfired seconds later when Hazard lost the ball in midfield to Aaron Hunt, who fed Hahn with a defence-splitting pass to slot home the 1-1 equaliser.
But Raffael restored the hosts’ lead by shooting into the near left corner in the 74th, and wrapped up matters five minutes later by tapping in Hazard’s low cross from the right for his sixth goal of the season.
The victory will boost their morale for next week’s German Cup last-16 game against Bayer Leverkusen.
The final Bundesliga round before the winter break which runs until January 12 is completed Saturday and Sunday, with runaway leaders Bayern Munich at lowly VfB Stuttgart.