Uninspired Bayern wins, Leipzig keeps chasing in Bundesliga
BERLIN (AP) — Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich produced another uninspired performance in beating Werder Bremen 2-1, while Leipzig kept pace by defeating previously unbeaten Hoffenheim on Saturday.
Hoffenheim had been the last unbeaten team across Europe’s five biggest leagues.
Bremen made a disciplined start to the second half of the season, but a rare break forward came to nothing as the home side appeared to lack the confidence to follow through.
The visitors went ahead just after the half-hour mark, when Franck Ribery ran at the Bremen defense and crossed for fellow winger Arjen Robben to score with a brilliant left-footed strike.
David Alaba did even better to make it 2-0 before the break from a free kick, stroking the ball over the wall into the top right corner and in off the post.
Home fans must have feared a repeat of the 6-0 drubbing Bayern gave Bremen on the opening weekend of the season.
But it was as good as it got from Bayern.
Max Kruse displayed a wonderful turn of foot to elude Alaba after taking Zlatko Junuzovic’s cross before rifling the ball into the roof of the net in the 53rd.
The home side was transformed and Bayern appeared increasingly toothless as Thomas Mueller, Robben, and then Ribery were substituted.
“It was an important win from a difficult game,” Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “After their goal we lost our way of playing. We were a bit afraid, a little worried, I have to admit.”
Bayern, which was similarly short of ideas against Freiburg the previous weekend, maintained its three-point lead over Leipzig after 18 games.
LEIPZIG 2, HOFFENHEIM 1
Nadiem Amiri stunned the home side with the opener on a counterattack led by Sebastian Rudy.
Timo Werner equalized minutes before the break, taking the ball from Naby Keita and prodding the ball past Oliver Baumann after Hoffenheim failed to clear.
Both sides pressed hard with Germany coach Joachim Loew in the stands, and Leipzig was handed the advantage with half an hour remaining when Sandro Wagner was sent off for a stamp on Stefan Ilsanker.
Marcel Sabitzer struck the winner with just over 10 minutes remaining, with Keita again involved before he scored with a deflected shot.
BAYER LEVERKUSEN 2, BORUSSIA MOENCHENGLADBACH 3
’Gladbach came from two goals down to snatch an unlikely win and put a dent in Leverkusen’s optimism after the 3-1 defeat of Hertha Berlin.
The visitors made the better start in Leverkusen but were rocked by two quick-fire corners delivered by Hakan Calhanoglu. Jonathan Tah eluded his marker to head in the first, and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez repeated the feat minutes later.
But Lars Stindl held off Tah to pull one back early in the second half and the ’Gladbach captain equalized minutes later with a head to Oscar Wendt’s cross.
Raffael then scored with just under 20 minutes remaining, running onto a ball over the top and eluding Tah before slotting to the far corner to send the visiting fans wild.
Before kickoff, a TV cameraman was injured when Leverkusen fans behind the goal lit flares and threw some toward the pitch.
INGOLSTADT 3, HAMBURGER SV 1
Hamburg’s second half to the season got off to a shaky start at relegation rival Ingolstadt. Goals from Pascal Gross and Markus Suttner gave Markus Gisdol’s side a mountain to climb at the break.
Gisdol made two changes at the interval only for one of them, Dennis Diekmeier, to give away a penalty immediately after it. Almog Cohen duly converted.
Hamburg captain Gotoku Sakai provided his side’s only glimmer of light midway through the half with a fierce strike from more than 25 meters which went in off the underside of the crossbar.
Still, Ingolstadt rose above Hamburg into the relegation playoff place.
Forward Yuya Osako scored twice and forced an own goal from Darmstadt captain Aytac Sulu as Cologne enjoyed a 6-1 rout of the bottom side.
Wolfsburg slumped to its ninth defeat of the season, 2-1 at home to Augsburg.