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Bremen blow chance to top Bundesliga

Berlin (AFP) – Ten-man Werder Bremen blew the chance to top the Bundesliga on Saturday when they lost 2-1 at Stuttgart, whose goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler conceded a howler of an own goal.

Bremen were handed a golden chance to go top after leaders Bayern Munich crashed to a 2-0 defeat at Hertha Berlin on Friday, but instead suffered their first defeat of the season.

With Hertha now second, third-placed Borussia Dortmund, the league’s only unbeaten team, could knock Bayern off top spot if they win at Bayer Leverkusen later Saturday.

Bremen made a bad start in Stuttgart when Greece striker Anastasios Donis dribbled through the visitors’ defence and chipped into an open net on 19 minutes.

Their problems were compounded eight minutes before half-time when key defender Milos Veljkovic pulled back Daniel Didavi, his second foul on the Stuttgart striker, and was shown a red card.

Stuttgart shot themselves in the foot after a huge blunder by Zieler, Germany’s third-choice goalkeeper in their 2014 World Cup winning squad.

The 29-year-old took his eye off the ball when defender Borna Sosa aimed a throw-in his way and, after he got a faint touch, watched in horror as the ball rolled into his net on 68 minutes.

However, Gonzalo Castro spared Stuttgart’s blushes with their second goal 15 minutes from time.

Bremen had chances as midfielder Maximilian Eggestein and veteran striker Claudio Pizarro, who turns 40 on Wednesday and made his 450th Bundesliga appearance, hit the post.

Elsewhere, Julian Nagelsmann’s Hoffenheim, who host Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday, suffered a 2-1 home defeat to RB Leipzig, who Nagelsmann will coach next season.

Leipzig took the lead when Germany striker Timo Werner charged into the penalty area and passed back for Yussuf Poulsen, whose 53rd minute strike was deflected before it hit the target.

Denmark forward Poulsen added a second 18 minutes from time, firing home the rebound after Jean-Kevin Augustin hit the post before Andrej Kramaric netted a late Hoffenheim penalty.

Borussia Moenchengladbach went fourth despite being held to a 2-2 draw at Wolfsburg, where they have not won for 15 years.

Gladbach took the lead after seven minutes when new signing Alassane Plea curled in a superb long-range shot for his third Bundesliga goal in five games, only for Wolfburg’s Renato Steffen to equalise soon after.

Thorgan Hazard added Gladbach’s second, only for Dutch striker Wout Weghorst to level again for Wolfsburg.

Schalke, last season’s runners up, climbed off the bottom of the table with a 1-0 win at Mainz when Austria midfielder Alessandro Schoepf headed the winner after only 11 minutes.

The home win eases the pressure on head coach Domenico Tedesco as Schalke ended their run of five straight defeats to lift them to 17th.

Hanover took over from Schalke in bottom place, but can climb up from 18th if they take points at Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.

Nuremberg won the battle of the teams promoted last season when they romped to a 3-0 win over Fortuna Duesseldorf thanks to goals by Hanno Behrens, Mikael Ishak and Federico Palacios.

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