Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund conceded a late goal in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s low-key Bundesliga return on Sunday in a 1-1 draw at Mainz which cost them third place in the table.
Aubameyang, the German league’s top scorer with 16 goals, was back in Dortmund’s starting line-up following Gabon’s group-stage exit from the Africa Cup of Nations, but he had just two shots on goal in Mainz.
Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel had lamented their shaky defence after last Saturday’s scrappy 2-1 win at Werder Bremen and they again looked unstable at the back.
This was Dortmund’s fourth draw in their last five league games.
Last season’s runners up are now fourth — fourteen points adrift of leaders Bayern Munich, who won 2-1 at Werder Bremen on Saturday thanks to goals by Arjen Robben and David Alaba.
Borussia took the lead with just three minutes gone in Mainz.
Midfielder Jean-Philippe Gbamin lost possession, which Dortmund’s Germany winger Andre Schuerrle snapped up to provide the final pass for Marco Reus to rifle home.
Mainz’s Japan striker Yoshinori Muto had the ball in the net on 15 minutes, but the goal was ruled offside.
The hosts snatched a point seven minutes from time when midfielder Danny Latza was left unmarked to head home a cross at the far post as Mainz pushed for the winner in the frantic final stages.
Earlier, midfielder Janik Haberer and ex-Bayern Munich striker Nils Petersen netted for Freiburg in Sunday’s shock 2-1 win over Bundesliga high-fliers Hertha Berlin.
“It’s unpleasant to play against us,” said Petersen.
“We defended well and we have the quality up front to use our few chances.
“We’re all pulling in the right direction — big compliment to the team.”
Having pushed league leaders Bayern all the way in last weekend’s 2-1 home defeat at the Schwarzwald Stadion, hosts Freiburg earned a deserved win on Sunday to climb to eighth in Germany’s top flight.
Haberer, who had given Freiburg a shock lead against Bayern before Robert Lewandowski netted twice, put the hosts ahead against Hertha when he drilled home Vincenzo Grifo’s pass across goal on 39 minutes.
Freiburg sealed the win when super sub Petersen netted his sixth goal of the season, all of which have come as a replacement, on 87 minutes when he finished off a move started by his own goalkeeper and beat three defenders.
Less than a minute later, Hertha pulled a goal back when ex-Dortmund striker Julian Schieber rifled home.
The defeat, Hertha’s sixth of the season, leaves Pal Dardai’s Berlin sixth in the table.
“We played okay for an away game, but we had no clear chances, just mistakes in their defence,” said Dardai, whose team has now suffered two straight defeats after their 3-1 loss at Leverkusen.
“We have to improve that.”
On Saturday, second-placed RB Leipzig ended 10-man Hoffenheim’s unbeaten run this season with a 2-1 comeback win to stay just three points adrift of Carlo Ancelotti’s star-studded Bavarians.
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.
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