Soccer

Leverkusen clinches fourth in Bundesliga, Nuremberg relegated

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The Canadian Press
5/10/2014 12:27:18 PM
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BERLIN -- Nuremberg and Eintracht Braunschweig were relegated on the final day of the Bundesliga season Saturday, while Bayer Leverkusen clinched the last Champions League qualification place.

Leverkusen came from behind to beat Werder Bremen 2-1 and secure fourth place immediately above Wolfsburg, which beat sixth-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach 3-1.

"We knew we had to win," Leverkusen striker Eren Derdiyok said.

Hamburger SV got the relegation playoff place despite losing 3-2 at Mainz, which secured Europa League football next season by finishing seventh.

Mainz general manager Christian Heidel said after the game that Thomas Tuchel wanted to resign after five years in charge.

"He has a contract until 2015. We don't want to rescind the contract," Heidel said. Media reports were linking Tuchel with Schalke.

Neither Nuremberg nor Braunschweig could capitalize on Hamburg's loss. Nuremberg lost 4-1 at Schalke and Braunschweig stayed bottom after a 3-1 loss at Hoffenheim.

It was a Bundesliga record eighth relegation for Nuremberg, while Braunschweig returns to the second division one season after securing promotion.

"When you look back over 34 games we simply didn't get enough points, that's a fact," Braunschweig midfielder Mirko Boland said.

Hamburg, the only side to have played every Bundesliga season since the league was formed in 1963, now faces home and away games against the third-placed finisher in the second division for a place in the top flight next season.

"On Thursday at home we have to win," Hamburg coach Mirko Slomka said of the first leg.

Hamburg completed its worst ever league campaign, with 75 goals conceded, more than any other side.

"We still have a chance and we'll give everything we can," Hamburg midfielder Rafael van der Vaart said.

Robert Lewandowski scored twice in his last game for Borussia Dortmund, a 4-0 win at Hertha Berlin, to finish as the league's top scorer with 20 goals.

The Polish striker opened the scoring in the 41st and Milos Jojic curled a fine effort from the right of the penalty area inside the far post three minutes later.

Lewandowski, who is joining Bayern Munich next season, scored with a brilliant free kick in the 80th, two minutes before Henrikh Mkhitaryan completed the goals.

Already crowned champion Bayern left it late to beat Stuttgart 1-0 and get its title celebrations underway.

Claudio Pizarro scored two minutes into injury time for Bayern to finish the league on a high. It was the Peru striker's fifth goal in four games.

Pep Guardiola's side had clinched the title with a record seven games to spare and the former Barcelona coach was doused in beer by jubilant players as he held aloft the championship shield. He also dropped it.

"It was cold," Guardiola said of his first beer shower. "It's all OK now after having a proper shower. I'm happy."

Stuttgart coach Huub Stevens, who saved his side from relegation, stepped down after the game.

"I'm not staying with Stuttgart. The reasons are personal. It has nothing to do with Stuttgart, nothing to do with the players. It only has to do with me," the Dutchman said without elaborating.

Also Saturday, Augsburg defeated Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 and Hannover beat Freiburg 3-2.

Hannover honoured captain Steve Cherundolo before kickoff for his service to the club he joined in 1999. The San Diego native, who made 87 appearances for the United States, is retiring because of persistent knee injuries.

Schalke safeguarded third place to secure direct qualification for the Champions League next season.

It started badly for Nuremberg when Joel Matip scored with a header from a corner in the sixth minute.

Roman Neustaedter made it 2-0 before the break, Julian Draxler scored in the 75th, and Chinedu Obasi added another in the 90th.

Nuremberg striker Josip Drmic scored his side's consolation in injury time.

Leverkusen provisionally lost fourth place to Wolfsburg after Theodor Gebre Selassie fired Bremen ahead in the 21st and Kevin de Bruyne put Wolfsburg 1-0 up against 'Gladbach in the 30th.

Leverkusen defender Omer Toprak equalized with a fine header in the 34th and Heung-min Son put his side back in fourth place by scoring in the 53rd for a 2-1 victory.

"Of course there's a bit of sadness after such a last game after six intensive weeks," said Leverkusen interim coach Sascha Lewandowski, who is making way for Roger Schmidt.

Schmidt guided Red Bull Salzburg to the Austrian championship this season.

In Wolfsburg, Christoph Kramer equalized for 'Gladbach in the 64th, before Ivan Perisic and Robin Knoche responded in the 68th and 81st respectively as the hosts won 3-1.

Perisic struck the crossbar in the first half, and then the post, crossbar and the other post with one shot in the second.

The season comes to a close next Saturday with Bayern and Dortmund meeting in Berlin's Olympic Stadium for the German Cup final.

Son Heung-min celebrates (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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