RB Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen both lose to hand Bayern Munich advantage


Berlin, Jan. 23, 2021 RB Leipzig wasted yet another chance to put pressure on Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich after a 2-3 defeat at lowly Mainz on Saturday.

RB Leipzig remain four points behind Bayern Munich, who visit bottom side Schalke 04 on Sunday when Hoffenheim also host Cologne.

Third-placed Bayer Leverkusen also slipped up in a 1-0 home loss to Wolfsburg, who moved fourth thanks to Ridle Baku’s header.

Eintracht Frankfurt climbed up to sixth after a 5-1 win at Arminia Bielefeld.

Freiburg beat regional neighbours Stuttgart 2-1 while fellow mid-table side Augsburg defeated Union Berlin 2-1.

Davie Selke, on loan from Hertha Berlin, scored a penalty kick against his struggling parent club to help give Werder Bremen a 4-1 away win in a late game.

Hundreds of home fans protested against long-serving Hertha Berlin sporting director Michael Preetz outside the Olympic Stadium before kick-off, in spite of coronavirus restrictions banning supporters.

The second half of the Bundesliga season began on Friday when fifth-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach beat Borussia Dortmund 4-2 to move above their rivals.

Borussia Dortmund are now seventh with all of Bayern Munich’s expected rivals floundering as the defending champions stride on in spite of iffy form.

“There is no point talking about Bayern Munich if we don’t win games,” RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann, linked in the media with Real Madrid, told reporters.

“The defeat is disappointing, of course. We knew beforehand that it would be difficult to shine with our football on a difficult surface.”

RB Leipzig forward Emil Forsberg, who scored the winner off the bench against Union Berlin in midweek, was recalled to the starting line-up in Mainz.

But it was a man who had not scored in the German top-flight who opened the scoring for RB Leipzig.

U.S midfielder Tyler Adams scored after Marcel Sabitzer’s shot had been tipped onto the bar.

Mainz levelled midway through the first half when Moussa Niakhate prodded in after Peter Gulacsi had parried Dominik Kohr’s header following a free-kick.

Parity did not last long though with Marcel Halstenberg putting RB Leipzig back ahead with a confident finish for a defender.

But the visitors again let the lead slip following a set-piece, with Mainz defender Niakhate grabbing his second goal with another tap-in after a corner-kick.

Second-bottom Mainz, who had won only once in the league previously this term, made it 3-2 early in the second half when Leandro Barreiro nipped in at the near-post as Gulacsi hesitated.

They held on for a first victory under new coach Bo Svensson in his fourth game in charge and against a team with the best defence in the league.

Mainz are still seven points from absolute safety.

“Yesterday I found a really great group,” said Mainz’s Danny da Costa, who signed on loan from Frankfurt on Friday and set up the winner.

“I (just) hoped someone would be there at the near-post.”

But he added it would be “definitely difficult” for Mainz to survive.

Bayer Leverkusen, without injured striker Patrik Schick, hit the post early on against Wolfsburg through Lucas Alario, amid other good chances.

The Argentina striker then had a fierce effort saved by Koen Casteels.

But the hosts were soon made to pay for their profligacy.

Wolfsburg’s Renato Steffen had time to pick out the unmarked Baku, who headed home 10 minutes before the break.

Top scorer Wout Weghorst came close to extending their advantage in the second half as Bayer Leverkusen laboured.

The Wolves, seventh last term, are enjoying another strong season under Oliver Glasner and deservedly sit in the UEFA Champions League places.

“We were lacking imagination,” said Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky. “Wolfsburg defended well.”