Nuremberg stuns Gladbach
NUREMBERG, Germany — Title contenders Borussia Moenchengladbach missed the chance to close the eight-point gap on German league leaders Dortmund on Sunday when they suffered a 1-0 defeat at mid-table Nuremberg.
The only goal came when Nuremberg’s in-form striker Alexander Esswein squared the ball for Swiss forward Albert Bunjaku to fire home in the 87th minute.
“We didn’t play well,” admitted Moenchengladbach coach Lucien Favre whose side were beaten for the first time in their last 10 games, but at least have the consolation of staying in third place.
“We lacked penetration and we were too static at times.”
Gladbach striker Mike Hanke said his team was frustrated at missing the chance to claim second in the table from Bayern Munich.
“Obviously, we are disappointed that we could not take advantage of the situation but we are still in the race,” he said.
Germany striker Lukas Podolski scored with a late header to break Cologne’s run of three defeats as they drew 1-1 with Hoffenheim, but his team are still only three points from the relegation zone.
Gladbach’s defeat means all of the Bundesliga’s top four teams lost this weekend apart from top side Dortmund, who claimed a 2-1 win over Mainz on Saturday with Japan winger Shinji Kagawa scoring the late winner.
Second-placed Bayern slumped to a 2-0 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen after wasting a string of clear chances while Schalke 04, who are fourth, were shocked 2-1 at relegation-threatened Freiburg.
After Dortmund claimed their eighth consecutive win — a new club record — Bayern’s director of sport Christian Nerlinger refused to wave the white flag but admitted winning the Bundesliga title is now out of their hands.
“We won’t be talking about winning the league,” said Nerlinger, after goals by Leverkusen’s ex-Germany striker Stefan Kiessling and midfielder Karim Bellarabi saw his team fall to their sixth league defeat of the campaign.
“I’m not writing off the title but it’s not something which need concern us now. Somehow, we have to get a grip on our weakness away from home.”
Dortmund underlined their credentials as league leaders by grinding out victory against Mainz, with Kagawa’s winner coming just three minutes after the visitors had equalised.
The hosts took the lead after Poland captain Jakub Blaszczykowski fired home from Kagawa’s final pass on 26 minutes.
Mainz striker Mohamed Zidan, who only left Dortmund in January, scored in his fifth consecutive game for his new club when he found the net from a tight angle on 74 minutes to beat Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller.
“When they play like this, they are almost impossible to stop,” said Zidan.
With 55 points, Dortmund are well clear of Bayern, who are on 48, while Gladbach are on 47 with Schalke fourth on 44.
Stuttgart are eighth in the table after they earned a 4-0 win at Hamburg.
Hertha Berlin finally broke their seven-match losing streak with a 1-0 win over Werder Bremen, giving coach Otto Rehhagel, who steered Greece to the Euro 2004 title, his first win in only his second game in charge.
Kaiserslautern are now bottom of the table after their goalless draw with VfL Wolfsburg, while Augsburg are 16th after their 2-2 draw at Hanover.