Dortmund stakes claim for direct Champions League place
BERLIN (AP) — Borussia Dortmund staked its claim for direct Champions League qualification with a 2-1 win over rival Hoffenheim, while Darmstadt was relegated from the Bundesliga on Saturday.
With two rounds remaining, Dortmund’s win lifted the side to third, two points above fourth-placed Hoffenheim, which is assured of at least a playoff for Europe’s premier competition in its best-ever season.
“It’s fundamentally important not to lose the concentration. We want to win three more times this season,” said Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel, whose side also faces Eintracht Frankfurt in the German Cup final on May 27.
Marco Reus fired the home side into a fourth-minute lead, though Hoffenheim’s players were incensed as TV replays showed the Germany attacker was a meter (yard) offside for Gonzalo Castro’s forward ball.
Reus was booked for an elbow to Steven Zuber in a heated encounter, and the visitors had further reason for complaint when Felix Brych awarded Dortmund a penalty early in the first half for an apparent hand-ball by Pavel Kaderabek. Reus had used his arm to control the ball before his cross hit Kaderabek’s arm.
But Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang failed to take advantage, sending the spot kick to the left of the post.
The Gabon striker made up for the miss with his joint-leading 28th goal of the season for 2-0 with less than 10 minutes remaining, heading in the rebound from close range after Raphael Guerreiro hit the post.
Andrej Kramaric pulled one back from the penalty spot after Matthias Ginter hauled down Sandro Wagner, but it proved just a consolation as Dortmund held on to move three points behind second-placed Leipzig ahead of its late game at Hertha Berlin.
BAYERN MUNICH 1, DARMSTADT 0
Bottom-side Darmstadt was finally relegated as its unprecedented three-game winning run was brought to a halt by Bayern, which wrapped up its record fifth straight title last weekend.
Juan Bernat scored early with a quick change of feet and fine shot to the far corner, but Bayern - which was playing with several second-choice players - failed to push on from there.
Reserve goalkeeper Tom Starke saved a late penalty from Hamit Altintop, denying the visitors what would have been a merited equalizer after a courageous performance.
EINTRACHT FRANKFURT 0, WOLFSBURG 2
Mario Gomez scored one and set up another for Wolfsburg to ease its relegation concerns in Frankfurt.
The Germany striker set up Daniel Didavi after the break and then sealed the result with just under half an hour to play after a good run from Paul-Georges Ntep.
Wolfsburg, which had four defeats in its previous five games, moved three points above relegation rivals Hamburger SV and Mainz ahead of their meeting on Sunday.
BORUSSIA MOENCHENGLADBACH 1, AUGSBURG 1
Alfred Finnbogason’s second-half strike, set up by Halil Altintop, was set to drag Augsburg further from the relegation zone to boost its chances of survival with two games remaining.
But Andre Hahn struck in the fourth minute of injury time to leave his former side Augsburg level with Wolfsburg, just three points above Hamburg and Mainz. Hamburg was in the relegation playoff spot on account of its inferior goal difference to Mainz.
INGOLSTADT 1, BAYER LEVERKUSEN 1
Leverkusen produced another lackluster performance in what sporting director Rudi Voeller has called a “cursed season” as Sonny Kittel’s fine goal with a quarter-hour remaining looked to put relegation-rival Ingolstadt within touching distance of survival.
However, Kai Havertz equalized with a header from a corner five minutes later, denying the home side what could have been a vital win.
Ingolstadt remained second from bottom, three points behind Hamburg and Mainz.