Dortmund beats Bremen, claims honorary title in Bundesliga
ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 16, 2018 08:10 AM
Dortmund's Manuel Akanji, left, and Bremen's Yuya Osako challenge for the ball during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen in Dortmund, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
By Ciaran Fahey, Associated Press
BERLIN (AP) — Borussia Dortmund ground out a 2-1 home win over Werder Bremen to stretch its Bundesliga lead and take the honorary title of "autumn champion" on Saturday.
On the three previous occasions Dortmund finished the first half of the season as leader — in 1994, 1995, 2010 — the team went on to win the league.
"It doesn't mean much," Dortmund coach Lucien Favre said. "Thanks, but we still have two important games before the winter break."
Paco Alcacer and Marco Reus' first-half goals were enough for Dortmund to open up a nine-point lead over Borussia Moenchengladbach and Bayern Munich, separated by goal difference in second and third, respectively.
Dortmund fans sang, "We will be German champion," and then honored former player Nuri Sahin, now with Bremen, after his return to the club where he won league titles in 2011 and 2012.
Davy Klaassen produced a brilliant goal-line clearance to deny Alcacer early on and was involved again as Reus went down for a penalty appeal. The Bremen defender had to go off shortly afterward due to an injury sustained when he crashed into the net.
Alcacer didn't have to wait long for his league-leading 11th goal, heading in Raphael Guerreiro's free kick in the 19th. The linesman raised his flag for offside but the video referee corrected the decision and the goal stood.
Jadon Sancho set up Reus to score minutes later, but Max Kruse pulled one back for Bremen with a brilliant dipping shot inside the top corner minutes after that.
The visitors pushed hard for an equalizer. Substitute Mario Goetze thought he'd finally sealed it in injury time but the goal was ruled out through the video referee for offside.
BAYERN IN PURSUIT
Bayern put some pressure on Dortmund by routing Hannover 4-0.
Joshua Kimmich got the visitors off to a flying start, firing on the volley inside the far post after just a minute played.
David Alaba scored the second with a hammer-shot from 20 meters inside the top corner.
Serge Gnabry got the third early in the second half, long after the home side had given up hope of getting something from the game.
Michael Esser was Hannover's best player but the unfortunate goalkeeper was unable to prevent Robert Lewandowski from claiming his 10th goal of the season after the hour mark.
"Perhaps the best performance of the season," Bayern coach Niko Kovac said.
Hannover, which was fortunate not to concede more, dropped to last in the table.
Moenchengladbach was held at Hoffenheim to 0-0.
Also, Mario Gomez scored twice for Stuttgart to beat Hertha Berlin 2-1, Schalke was held at Augsburg to 1-1, and Fortuna Duesseldorf enjoyed a rare win, 2-0 at home over Freiburg.