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Leipzig end Hoffenheim run to keep pace with Bayern

Berlin (AFP) – Second-placed RB Leipzig ended 10-man Hoffenheim’s unbeaten run this season with a 2-1 comeback win in Saturday’s key Bundesliga clash to stay just three points behind leaders Bayern Munich.

Hoffenheim were the last undefeated team left in Europe’s top leagues before Marcel Sabitzer’s 77th-minute winner dealt the visitors their first loss of the campaign after striker Sandro Wagner’s dismissal.

“I was impressed by the way we didn’t lose our way after going behind,” said RB coach Ralph Hasenhuettl. “That was a big point against a very good opponent. We were very clever, very flexible, in the way we acted.”

With Germany coach Joachim Loew watching, Hoffenheim took the lead at Leipzig’s Red Bull Arena when midfielder Sebastian Rudy started a copybook counter-attack before Nadiem Amiri tapped-in on 18 minutes.

Leipzig kept their composure and playmaker Naby Keita barged into the Hoffenheim area to lay the ball off as Timo Werner netted his 11th goal this season.

Hoffenheim were reduced to 10 men for the last 30 minutes when Wagner was sent off for a clumsy tackle.

Leipzig grabbed the winner when Austria international Sabitzer fired home from 22 metres out.

Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern stayed top with a hard-fought 2-1 win at battling Werder Bremen. 

Bayern went ahead when Franck Ribery’s pass found Arjen Robben and the Dutch winger curled his shot inside the post from outside the area on 31 minutes.

David Alaba doubled the lead with a sweetly-struck curling free-kick on the stroke of half-time.

But Bremen, who had last scored against Bayern in April 2014, dug deep and put up a spirited display at their Weser Stadion.

Germany striker Max Kruse pulled a goal back on 53 minutes and ex-Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry caused lots of problems down the right flank, but Bayern ultimately held on.

“That was an important win in a difficult game,” said Ancelotti.

“After conceding the goal, we lost our shape and we were a bit anxious and worried, I have to admit that.

“But by the end, we had the game under control.

– Leverkusen crash –

Bayer Leverkusen, who host Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last 16 in just over three weeks’ time, threw away a two-goal lead in their 3-2 home defeat against Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Goals by Germany defender Jonathan Tah and Javier Hernandez, ‘Chicharito’s first since October, put Leverkusen ahead before Gladbach’s stunning fight-back saw them climb to 13th.

Attacking midfielder Lars Stindl scored two goals in six minutes before Brazilian striker Raffael netted the winner. 

Earlier, Cologne battered bottom side Darmstadt 6-1 as Japan striker Yuya Osako scored twice.

The visitors raced into a 3-0 half-time lead after Aytac Sulu’s own goal, before Osako and Anthony Modeste netted.

Darmstadt’s Sidney Sam converted a second-half penalty before Osako, ex-Dortmund midfielder Milos Jojic and Latvia striker Artjoms Rudnevs netted for Cologne.

The rout leaves Darmstadt seven points from safety while Cologne stay seventh.

Relegation-threatened Ingolstadt remained 16th, but boosted their survival chances with a 3-1 win over Hamburg, who drop to second from bottom.

Ingolstadt’s Pascal Gross, Markus Suttner and Almog Cohen, who netted a penalty, netted before Hamburg’s Japanese captain Gotoku Sakai pulled a goal back.

Wolfsburg slumped to a 2-1 home defeat against Augsburg, whose Dominik Kohr scored the winner after Halil Altintop equalised following Germany striker Mario Gomez’s early goal for the Wolves.

On Friday, Eintracht Frankfurt went third with a 1-0 win at Schalke after Alexander Meier, the league’s top scorer in 2014-15, scored a first-half winner.

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