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Bailey shines as Leverkusen climb to second

Berlin (AFP) – Winger Leon Bailey produced a superb back-heeled goal in a dazzling display as Bayer Leverkusen went second in the Bundesliga with a 4-1 win at Hoffenheim on Saturday.

The 20-year-old Jamaican showed why Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal are reportedly chasing him with an audacious first-half shot which beat several defenders.

He then wrong-footed his marker and swung in a cross from the left wing to Lars Bender who set up Austrian defensive midfielder Julian Baumgartlinger to double the lead in the 51st minute.

Bailey again caused more misery in Hoffenheim’s ranks by providing the final pass for Argentina striker Lucas Alario, for the first of his two second-half goals, before Adam Szalai grabbed a late consolation for Hoffenheim.

The win allowed Leverkusen to snatch second from RB Leipzig and get back to winning ways after last weekend’s home defeat by leaders Bayern Munich, who host strugglers Werder Bremen on Sunday with a 13-point lead.

Just one point separates the six clubs behind Bayern in the league table, with seventh-placed Eintracht Frankfurt one adrift of Leverkusen.

“We are delighted with the three points — which weren’t expected, especially not so emphatically and after such an open first half,” said Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich.

– Leipzig stumble –

RB Leipzig dropped to third after a shock 2-1 defeat at Freiburg, who are unbeaten in seven games and moved seven points clear of the relegation zone.

The visitors had goals by Kevin Kampl and Bruma disallowed before Germany striker Timo Werner finally gave Leipzig a 66th-minute lead.

But the game turned in four minutes when Janik Haberer smashed home Freiburg’s equaliser and 21-year-old defender Robert Koch headed in the winner from a corner.

“We are very disappointed,” admitted Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl.

“After we took the lead, we all saw what happened.

“The opponent tried to hit us from standard situations and we could do nothing to defend against it.”

Borussia Moenchengladbach moved up to fourth after a Matthias Ginter header and tremendous Thorgan Hazard strike, following a superb run, sealed a 2-0 home win over Augsburg.

Borussia Dortmund dropped to fifth after Friday’s 1-1 draw at Hertha Berlin.

Star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was again left out of the Dortmund squad and Borussia confirmed on Saturday they have had contact with Arsenal about a possible transfer.

Stuttgart goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler dented his hopes of a Germany recall for March’s friendlies against Spain and Brazil with two howling errors in the 3-2 defeat at Mainz on Saturday.

The hosts gifted Stuttgart the opening goal when Holger Badstuber’s 19th-minute effort from a set-piece was deflected in.

Mainz replied with three unanswered goals as Japan striker Yoshinori Muto stabbed the ball home from close range at the second attempt just before the break, before his shot dipped under the diving Zieler.

Zieler was also at fault for Mainz’s third goal when he allowed Gerrit Holtmann’s shot to roll away from him and into the net on 64 minutes, before Stuttgart defender Daniel Ginczek netted a late header.

The win means Mainz trade places with Stuttgart just above the relegation zone.

Frankfurt moved up to seventh after their 3-1 win at ten-man Wolfsburg, who had striker Landry Dimata sent off for two yellow cards.

Sebastien Haller, who scored for the third game running, Timothy Chandler and Luka Jovic scored Frankfurt’s goals while Maximilian Arnold hit Wolfsburg’s consolation.

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