Drama in Bundesliga but league’s thoughts also with Ukraine
BERLIN (AP) — Leroy Sané scored late for Bayern Munich to win 1-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, when fans, teams and officials all across the Bundesliga showed signs of solidarity with Ukraine.
Frankfurt prominently displayed “STOP IT, PUTIN!” in English all around its stadium before kickoff in the late game, just one of several pointed messages against Russia’s ongoing invasion of its neighbor.
Sané’s 71st-minute goal was enough for a 1-0 win that stretched Bayern’s lead to nine points before second-place Borussia Dortmund visits Augsburg on Sunday.
Bayern controlled the match but found it difficult to break through a well-organized Frankfurt team that also had good opportunities through Filip Kostic and Evan Ndicka.
Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann sent Sané on in the 67th, four minutes before Joshua Kimmich played a through ball for the 26-year-old to finally beat Kevin Trapp in the Frankfurt goal.
“We all know we have to play to our limits to get something against Bayern,” Trapp said.
The Frankfurt goalkeeper had done well to frustrate league top scorer Robert Lewandowski, who captained Bayern in place of the injured Manuel Neuer and wore a blue and yellow captain’s armband in support of Ukraine.
“We condemn the attack on Ukraine and on the lives and homes of innocent people,” the German soccer league said earlier Saturday as it suggested clubs observe a minute’s silence before their games. “War is unacceptable in any form and incompatible with our values of sport.”
In Fürth, visiting Cologne and the home team lined up behind a banner in blue and yellow – the colors of the Ukrainian flag – with “STOP WAR” written in English and another message against war in German.
One fan at Union Berlin’s stadium held a sign showing a dove with the word “peace,” another at Leverkusen’s game painted blood on her face, and it seemed fans in all stadiums held Ukrainian flags or made some personal symbol against the war.
Second-division Schalke played its first game in 15 years without Russian energy giant Gazprom as main sponsor on the team jerseys. The Gelsenkirchen-based club had a 1-1 draw at Karlsruher SC.
Wolfsburg goalkeeper Koen Casteels produced a brilliant save in injury time to preserve his team’s 2-2 draw at Borussia Mönchengladbach. Gladbach also had a goal ruled out in injury time after VAR picked up on a foul before what would have been Matthias Ginter’s late winner.
The home team got off to a terrible start with Jonas Wind scoring in the sixth minute and Sebastiaan Bornauw making it 2-0 in the 33rd for Wolfsburg.
Marcus Thuram pulled one back before the break and was again involved when Wolfsburg defender Maxence Lacroix was sent off in the 70th for preventing the French forward’s clear goal chance with his hand.
Alassane Plea crossed for Breel Embolo to equalize in the 82nd and Casteels prevented worse for Wolfsburg.
Union Berlin bounced back from three games without a win or a goal since experienced forward Max Kruse left for Wolfsburg – with a 3-1 win at home over Mainz.
But the home fans’ patience was tested by a lengthy VAR check before Genki Haraguchi’s opener was allowed in the seventh minute. Sheraldo Becker scored a brilliant curling effort inside the right post in the 56th, then set up Taiwo Awoniyi to seal it in the 75th after Mainz had Dominik Kohr sent off on the hour-mark with his second yellow card in as many minutes. Delano Burgzorg scored a late consolation for the visitors.
City rival Hertha Berlin lost 3-0 at Freiburg to continue its dismal start to the year.
Bayer Leverkusen defeated Arminia Bielefeld 3-0 to consolidate third place, and last-place Fürth fought back to draw with Cologne 1-1.
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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP