BERLIN: RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann all but conceded the Bundesliga title on Saturday after his side were beaten 1-0 by league leaders Bayern Munich thanks to a first-half goal from Leon Goretzka.
Goretzka smashed the ball into the top corner shortly before the break as Bayern opened up a seven-point lead at the top of the table over second-placed Leipzig with just seven games to go. Bayern moved to 64 points with Leipzig on 57.
For us, it’s about finishing second in the table. We’re playing a good season and we want to keep going, even if our first chance of a title is gone,” Nagelsmann told Sky.
Leipzig will now need a near miracle if they are to stop Bayern winning a 30th Bundesliga title in May, yet match-winner Goretzka remained cautious.
There are still 21 points on offer this season, so this was a big step towards the title, but not a decisive one,” he said.
Playing without their injured star striker Robert Lewandowski, Bayern spent much of the game on the back foot as Leipzig dominated possession.
Kick-off was delayed by several minutes after Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer found a hole in his goal net, but the Munich defence remained watertight in the first half.
Goretzka blasted in the opener shortly before half-time, hitting a Thomas Mueller cut-back first time to pick up his fifth league goal of the season.
Leipzig came out fighting after the break, yet they failed to take their chances as Christopher Nkunku, Marcel Sabitzer and Dani Olmo all flashed shots just wide of the post.
VfL Wolfsburg beat Cologne 1-0 to stay in third place on 54 points thanks to a second-half goal from Josip Brekalo.
Andre Silva scored late for fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt to win 2-1 at Borussia Dortmund and consolidate their Champions League qualification place at the home side’s expense.
Frankfurt are four points off Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga’s last qualification spot for Europe’s top club competition and opened a seven-point gap over Dortmund.
“Not reaching the Champions League would be a catastrophe from a sporting and financial point of view,” said Dortmund defender Mats Hummels, who acknowledged it was “ery, very difficult now for his team to reach it”.
Frankfurt took the lead through a freakish own goal on 11 minutes, as Nico Schulz sent a looping header into his own net after a cross from Filip Kostic.
Hummels hooked the ball in at a corner to level the scores on the stroke of half-time, but the visitors restored the lead on the counter-attack in the dying minutes, Silva heading in from close range after another Kostic cross.
Dortmund are level on points with Bayer Leverkusen, who eased to a 2-1 win over bottom club Schalke 04 in their first game under new coach Hannes Wolf.
Lucas Alario and Patrik Schick struck either side of half-time before Dutch veteran Klaas-Jan Huntelaar grabbed a late consolation goal, scoring for the first time since his surprise return to Schalke in January.
Marcus Thuram scored twice as Borussia Moenchengladbach came from behind to beat Freiburg 2-1 in the late game. Gladbach’s second win in two games lifted them above Freiburg and Union Berlin into seventh, though Union still have a game in hand.
Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2021