Hertha Berlin relegated from Bundesliga
BERLIN (AP) — Advantage Borussia Dortmund.
Bayern Munich squandered its lead on Saturday when Leipzig came from behind to win 3-1 in the Bundesliga, giving Dortmund the chance to move to the top ahead of the final round.
Bayern just needed to win its last two games to be sure of claiming its record-extending 11th consecutive title, but Leipzig’s shock win in Munich handed Dortmund the initiative.
“If you play so far below your own level and the level is constantly dropping, then it gets very hard to win games,” Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel said.
Dortmund faces Augsburg away on Sunday. If it wins that game, and its final game at home to Mainz next weekend, Dortmund will end Bayern’s 10-year reign as German champion.
It started so well for the Bavarian powerhouse, which dominated the opening half hour against the cautious visitor.
Thomas Müller, making his second consecutive start for Bayern, set up Serge Gnabry for the opener in the 25th minute.
But Leipzig responded with three good chances in a row. Yann Sommer responded with three good saves.
Konrad Laimer, who all but confirmed he will join Bayern next season, scored a deserved equalizer in the 64th, then Christopher Nkunku scored from the penalty spot in the 76th after he was fouled in the area by compatriot Benjamin Pavard.
Dominik Szoboszlai sealed it with another penalty in the 85th after Noussair Mazraoui was penalized for handball.
“At the moment I've no explanation for how something like that can happen,” Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel said of his team's drop in intensity.
Leipzig sealed third place and with it Champions League qualification for next season.
Bayern faces Cologne away for its final game and must also hope for a Dortmund slip-up.
“We have a game next week. If we win, Dortmund will be under a lot of pressure,” Müller said. “They have to win both games and I want to see that first. If they do, then I'll congratulate them warmly. But until then we will stay focused and do everything we can to get three points next week.”
Hertha Berlin was relegated from the Bundesliga after conceding in the fourth minute of injury time to draw with Bochum 1-1.
Former Union Berlin defender Keven Schlotterbeck headed the goal that sent Hertha down to the second division.
It’s Hertha’s seventh relegation from the Bundesliga. Only Nuremberg (nine) and Arminia Bielefeld (eight) have been demoted more times.
Hertha needed a win to postpone the relegation decisions to the final day of the season and it was looking good for the home team after Lucas Tousart finally made the breakthrough with a header to Marco Richter’s corner in the 64th minute.
“We actually delivered a good game,” Hertha coach Pál Dárdai said. “We should have killed the game, we had five or six good chances. We shouldn't be ashamed of our performance. The fans saw that.”
Both teams hit the post in the final minutes before Schlotterbeck was left unopposed to head Kevin Stöger’s corner past Oliver Christensen in the Hertha goal.
It ensured Hertha stayed last with no chance of finishing above the bottom two. Bochum was not safe yet.
Schlotterbeck and his Bochum teammates ran to celebrate in front of the visiting fans, while the rest of the stadium was left in stunned silence. Some Hertha fans set off loud bangers that reverberated around Olympiastadion, while there were boos and whistles from some supporters when the team approached after the final whistle.
“I can't believe it, it's just sad,” Hertha veteran Prince Boateng said with tears in his eyes. “I love the club and came here knowing it's not all rosy. Now we have the time to regroup and strengthen the club, even if it's in the second division."
Schalke was in the relegation playoff spot after drawing at home to Eintracht Frankfurt 2-2. There were clashes between rival fans during the game.
Fourth-placed Union Berlin missed the chance to consolidate its Champions League qualification spot after losing at Hoffenheim 4-2.
“To take the last step is the hardest,” Union coach Urs Fischer said. “We made too many individual mistakes.”
Union and fifth-placed Freiburg are level on points going into the final round. Only the top four qualify for Europe's premier competition.
Also, Cologne drew at Werder Bremen 1-1.
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