Football

Leverkusen, Dortmund lose in the Bundesliga

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund both lost in the Bundesliga on Saturday, leaving Bayern Munich the biggest beneficiary even though the defending champion wasn't even in the country.

With Bayern playing the Club World Cup final in Morocco, Leverkusen and Dortmund could have gained some ground on the undefeated leader. But Leverkusen went down 1-0 at Werder Bremen and Dortmund lost 2-1 at home to Hertha Berlin, leaving Bayern seven points ahead of Leverkusen and 12 ahead of Dortmund, with one match in hand. Leverkusen lost its second straight and Dortmund its third consecutive at home as the two Champions League last-16 teams continued a slump.

Dortmund, which has won only one of its last six matches and lost four of them, could drop from third place if Borussia Moenchengladbach beats Wolfsburg on Sunday. Elsewhere on the final day before the winter break, Shinji Okazaki scored twice for Mainz to win 3-2 in Hamburg, Eintracht Braunschweig edged Hoffenheim 1-0 and Freiburg beat Hannover 2-1. The defeat could cost Hannover coach Mirko Slomka his job.

Hamburg and Braunschweig both finished their matches with 10 men. In the late match, Nuremberg drew 0-0 with Schalke to remain winless in the first half of the season. Werder snapped a five-match winless run when Santiago Garcia scored in the 74th minute. Aaron Hunt's counter attack produced a chance for Cedric Makiadi, who stumbled in the penalty area but Garcia was there to drill the ball home.

Dortmund got off to a fine start when Marco Reus used a long ball and an error by Hertha backup goalkeeper Marius Gersbeck to score from a sharp angle. But Adrian Ramos latched onto a low cross from Sami Allagui to score in the 23rd and Allagui secured the win just before half time after teenage defender Marian Sarr stumbled and lost the ball in front of the box. Allagui rounded goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller and knocked the ball into the empty net.

Hamburg fell to its fifth defeat at home despite taking the lead through Hakan Calhanoglu. But Mainz got the upper hand after the break, with Okazaki finishing a counter attack to level the score and then setting up Nicolai Mueller for the lead.

Captain Rafael van der Vaart scored from a melee before Okazaki controlled a long ball with his head and slotted it home for the winner in injury time. Hamburg's Tomas Rincon was sent off in the 82nd with his second yellow card.

Braunschweig notched its third win of the season when Torsten Oehrl converted a first-half penalty and held on despite the sending off of Timo Perthel. Freiburg got a brace from Admir Mehmedi to beat Hannover, which pulled one back through Leonardo Bittencourt in stoppage time.

Hannover finished the first half of the season without a single point away from home.

Related Headlines

  • 5 things to know about the Bundesliga weekend

    Runaway Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich continues its quest to break records with a derby at Nuremberg, Borussia Dortmund visits troubled Werder Bremen and Schalke hosts ... 

  • Relegation battles take center stage in Bundesliga

    The relegation battle takes center stage in the Bundesliga as the season enters its final phase. Eintracht Braunschweig, Hamburger SV, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Freiburg and ... 

  • 5 things to know about the Bundesliga

    Derbies are in plentiful supply in the Bundesliga this weekend. Hannover hosts Eintracht Braunschweig for the first top-flight Lower Saxony derby in 37 years on Friday, Bayern ... 

  • Toni Kroos

    Bundesliga relegation battle heats up

    The relegation battle and race for the last Champions League qualification spot take center stage in the Bundesliga with just four games of the season remaining.