Leipzig beats Hertha Berlin 2-0 to reclaim Bundesliga lead
ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 18, 2016 07:43 AM
Leipzig's Yussuf Poulsen, left, and Hertha Berlin's Allan Souza, right, challenge for the ball during the German Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and Hertha BSC Berlin in Leipzig, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
CIARAN FAHEY, Associated Press
BERLIN (AP) — Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz watched from the stands as his Leipzig side returned to the top of the Bundesliga with a 2-0 win over visiting Hertha Berlin on Saturday.
Mateschitz, who made his fortune through energy drink Red Bull, made a rare visit to the stadium to see the side before its clash with defending champion Bayern Munich on Wednesday. Bayern, three points behind Leipzig, still had to play its 15th-round game at Darmstadt on Sunday.
Leipzig started strongly and had Hertha's defense under pressure from the off.
The home side needed patience, however, before Timo Werner finally made the breakthrough four minutes before the break. Naby Keita played the 20-year-old Werner through to elude two Hertha defenders and fire inside the far post.
Defender Willi Orban headed in the second from a corner after an hour played.
"I expected a reaction after the 1-0 defeat against Ingolstadt and my team did not disappoint," coach Ralph Hasenhuettl said, referring to previously unbeaten Leipzig's slip last weekend. "We were there on the pitch from the start today, the belief was there."
Hertha, outplayed for most of the game, dropped to fourth after its second successive loss.
It was the first eastern derby between the sides, though neither is from the former East Germany, with Hertha based in West Berlin and Leipzig founded only in 2009 when Mateschitz bought a local fifth-tier team, SSV Markranstaedt, and rebranded it with the company's livery under a new name, before financing its steady promotion through the lower leagues.
MAINZ 3, HAMBURGER SV 1
Mainz had an unlikely hat trick artist to thank for lifting the side to ninth and leaving Hamburg in the relegation zone.
Midfielder Danny Latza equalized before halftime after a botched clearance, scored after the break with an almost copy-cat goal, and earned his third with another fine strike under the crossbar with over 20 minutes remaining.
WOLFSBURG 1, EINTRACHT FRANKFURT 0
After sacking general manager Klaus Allofs last Monday, Wolfsburg responded with a committed performance to ease the pressure on Valerien Ismael, giving the beleaguered coach just his second win from eight league games.
Jeffrey Bruma's first-half header from Julian Draxler's corner proved enough for the home side to climb three points above the relegation zone.
Alexander Meier missed the chance to equalize when he sent his penalty over in the second half.
Frankfurt dropped sixth as its nine-game unbeaten run across all competitions came to an end.
AUGSBURG 1, BORUSSIA MOENCHENGLADBACH 0
Following the sacking of Dirk Schuster on Wednesday, interim coach Manuel Baum celebrated his first game in charge of Augsburg with a win that lifted the side over 'Gladbach in the table.
Martin Hinteregger's 75th-minute header from a corner was enough to deal his former side its seventh defeat and increase the pressure again on 'Gladbach coach Andre Schubert.
'Gladbach was 13th in the 18-team Bundesliga.
Schalke and Cologne had to settle for 1-1 draws after tough encounters.
Cologne forward Artjoms Rudnevs fired his side ahead midway through the first half at Werder Bremen, but Serge Gnabry equalized against the run of play with a speculative shot five minutes before the interval.
Freiburg's Florian Niederlechner shocked the home fans in Gelsenkirchen by grabbing the opener after more than an hour played. Yevhen Konoplyanka salvaged a draw with a header to Abdul Rahman Baba's cross for his first Bundesliga goal.
Schalke was missing the likes of Breel Embolo, Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Franco Di Santo and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting through injury.