Zirkzee’s debut goal gives Bayern win; Gladbach level at top
FREIBURG, Germany (AP) — Dutch teenager Joshua Zirkzee marked his Bundesliga debut for Bayern Munich by scoring a crucial goal in stoppage time to help secure a 3-1 win over Freiburg on Wednesday.
Bayern was heading for a 1-1 draw and more dropped points before Zirkzee hit the ball between Freiburg goalkeeper Mark Flekken’s legs. Serge Gnabry made it 3-1 in the final seconds.
It was Zirkzee’s first touch of the ball since coming off the bench. Before Wednesday, the 18-year-old’s only appearance for Bayern’s first team had been four minutes as a substitute in the Champions League.
The win put Bayern up to third, four points behind German league leader Leipzig and second-place Borussia Mönchengladbach, which beat Paderborn 2-0 on Wednesday.
Robert Lewandowski gave Bayern the lead with his 19th goal in 16 Bundesliga games this season, but Freiburg equalized through Vincenzo Grifo. That goal came in the 59th minute when Bayern’s right back Joshua Kimmich came in toward the center and left space open for Grifo to sneak in at the far post.
The scoreline flattered Bayern which was often troubled by Freiburg’s pace on the counter. The German champion has conceded in all of its last five games, something which may be a factor when club management decides whether to keep interim coach Hansi Flick.
Gladbach needed to react after losing to Wolfsburg on Sunday, but that didn’t seem to sink in until halftime. Then it clicked.
Alassane Plea scored just 13 seconds into the second half to give Gladbach the lead against last-place Paderborn, and captain Lars Stindl added a second from the penalty spot soon after.
It was a much-needed win for Gladbach after last week’s loss to Wolfsburg and exit from the Europa League at the hands of Turkish side Istanbul Basaksehir.
Last week, Bayer Leverkusen was the Bundesliga’s comeback team. Now it’s firmly back in a slump.
Leverkusen had more than 70 percent possession but still lost 1-0 to Hertha Berlin on Wednesday, its third loss in eight days in all competitions. Star midfielder Kai Havertz was jeered by some Leverkusen fans when he was substituted. He hasn’t scored or assisted a goal since September.
Karim Rekik scored the only goal of the game to give Hertha its second straight win under new coach Jürgen Klinsmann.
The defeats to Hertha and to Cologne on Saturday — both struggling teams that Leverkusen was expected to beat — have dropped Leverkusen out of the fight for Champions League places and down to seventh.
“Today we didn’t have any ideas in a lot of places,” Leverkusen forward Kevin Volland said. “We have to come back out of these difficult phases together again.”
Schalke dropped behind Bayern to fourth after drawing 1-1 with Wolfsburg and missing a chance to close the gap to Leipzig. The second half was played in near-silence following reports that a Schalke fan had died after collapsing on his way to the game. The club said on Twitter that the unnamed fan died after being taken to a hospital, without giving further details.
“We are speechless and would like to wish his family and loved ones strength at this difficult time,” the club said. “You are not alone.”
Cologne produced the comeback of the day from two goals down to beat Frankfurt 4-2 and climb out of the relegation zone to 13th. Cologne has its first back-to-back wins since returning to the Bundesliga this season.