BERLIN Schalke 04 had defender Naldo sent off after four minutes and then almost held out until the very end before falling to a cruel 1-0 defeat at home to Bayer Leverkusen after Stefan Kiessling's late winner in the Bundesliga on Sunday.
There was also drama in the day's other game where Mainz 05 had what appeared to be a perfectly good goal disallowed in the 88th minute of their 1-0 loss at Borussia Moenchengladbach, who led through Andreas Christensen's second-half goal.
Tenth-placed Schalke were quickly in trouble when Naldo tripped Javier Hernandez to deny the Mexican a clear run on goal and was dismissed for a professional foul, the seventh red card of the weekend in the German top flight.
Leverkusen's one-man advantage was barely noticeable for the next 85 minutes, however, as Schalke gave as good as they got.
Just as it seemed the hosts were going to manage a heroic draw, Leverkusen were awarded a free kick, Hakan Calhanolgu's pinpoint delivery found Kiessling unmarked and the veteran forward headed home an 89th minute winner.
The victory took Leverkusen up to eighth place with 20 points, three more than their opponents.
Gladbach ended an eight-match run without a win in all competitions since the end of September with victory over Mainz, although the frustrated home fans jeered them off at halftime.
The breakthrough came after 76 minutes when Lars Stindl's shot was deflected into Christensen's path and the defender stabbed the ball home.
Mainz thought they had equalised with two minutes left when Pablo de Blasis managed to prod the ball into the net as Yann Sommer tried to collect it but the effort was disallowed, apparently for a foul on the Gladbach goalkeeper
De Blasis ran along the goal-line celebrating wildly before realising that his effort had been disallowed.
Mainz then had Jean-Philippe Gbamin sent off for a second bookable offence in the last minute of the mid-table clash.
"It's a shame that once again we have to talk about things other than football," said Mainz coach Martin Schmidt, whose side are 11th. "People are going to spend the whole week talking about referees' decisions."
(Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Ken Ferris)