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Bayern’s Schalke draw opens door for Leipzig

Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich left the door open for second-placed RB Leipzig to trim their lead in the Bundesliga to one point after being held to a 1-1 draw by Schalke on Saturday.

Robert Lewandowski’s deft chip gave Bayern an early lead in Munich before Schalke defender Naldo drilled home a free-kick on 13 minutes to level the scores.

Captain Philipp Lahm made his 500th appearance for Bayern, but the Bavarian giants were made to work for their point.

“It was a tough game because Schalke played well,” said Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti.

“We started well but were not so compact, also in midfield, and our two lines were too far apart from one another.

“We could only increase the pressure slightly at the end, but it was not enough.”

Flu-hit Leipzig will look to cut into Bayern’s provisional four-point lead with a win at Borussia Dortmund in Saturday night’s key showdown in Germany’s top flight.

But Leipzig have a tough task with top-scorer Timo Werner, midfielder Diego Demme and striker Marcel Sabitzer all out with flu, while playmaker Emil Forsberg is suspended.

In Munich, Bayern took the lead with just nine minutes gone.

Arturo Vidal, back from injury, threaded a pass to Lewandowski and the Poland striker lifted his shot over Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Faehrmann for his 15th league goal this season.

But Schalke kept their composure and equalised four minutes later when Naldo hammered a free-kick past Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Both sides had clear first-half chances as Schalke striker Guido Burgstaller hit the crossbar, just like Lewandowski did at the other end.

This was a tight, bruising encounter as Schalke fought hard for the point which left them 11th.

“Our plan would have worked out 100 percent if we’d won, but we can be very happy and can live with the point,” said a delighted Schalke coach, Markus Weinzierl.

– Hoffenheim bounce back –

Hoffenheim, the last team in a top European league to lose their unbeaten record last weekend, went third with a 4-0 hammering of Mainz at home.

Hoffenheim went ahead when midfield playmaker Sebastian Rudy’s long pass was chested down by striker Mark Uth, who drilled home his shot with five minutes gone.

Hoffenheim doubled the lead when midfielder Marco Terrazzino headed their second nine minutes from time then replacement striker Adam Szalai scored two goals off the bench against his old club.

Hertha moved up to fourth with a 1-0 win at home to strugglers Ingolstadt.

After losing their first two games of 2017, coach Pal Dardai had demanded a reaction and Hertha delivered with an early goal.

Salomon Kalou took advantage of some weak defending, sprinted down the wing to cross for Japan midfielder Genki Haraguchi to give them the lead after just a minute at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium.

Cologne are fifth following their 1-0 win at Wolfsburg thanks to Anthony Modeste’s second-half penalty, having been fouled by Wolves goalkeeper Diego Benaglio in the area.

Borussia Moenchengladbach picked up their second straight win with a 3-0 victory at home to Freiburg courtesy of goals from captain Lars Stindl, striker Raffael and winger Patrick Herrmann to go tenth.

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