MUNICH: Eintracht Frankfurt’s Aurelio Buta (L) and Bayern Munich’s Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting vie for the ball during their Bundesliga match at Allianz Arena.—AFP
MUNICH: Eintracht Frankfurt’s Aurelio Buta (L) and Bayern Munich’s Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting vie for the ball during their Bundesliga match at Allianz Arena.—AFP

BERLIN: Bayern Munich stumbled to a 1-1 draw against visiting Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday to leave them with only a slim Bundesliga lead after being held for the third game in a row with the same scoreline.

The result left the reigning champions one point ahead of second-placed Union Berlin, who now have 36 points after beating Hertha 2-0 in the Berlin derby.

RB Leipzig are in third spot on 35 following Friday’s2-1 win over VfB Stuttgart, with Frankfurt in fifth with 32.

Bayern, who visit Paris St Germ­ain on Feb 14 in the Champions League last 16, have had a turbulent few weeks.

The club frantically searched for a replacement for injured goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and signed Yann Sommer only a day before last week’s season restart draw with Leipzig.

They then fired goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic, who is also a close friend of Neuer, and then had to reprimand winger Serge Gnabry for flying to Paris to attend a fashion event before yet another draw in midweek against Cologne.

With Gnabry left on the bench on Saturday, Bayern looked sharper than their opponents in the first half and went in front when Leroy Sane rifled in from a Thomas Mueller assist in the 34th minute.

Eintracht defended well in the second half but were largely anonymous until Daichi Kamada fed Randal Kolo Muani in the box and the forward beat France team mate Dayot Upamecano in a one-on-one to drill in a 69th-minute equaliser with his seventh league goal this season.

In order to win the big games you have to play the smaller games in such a way so as to have a good run,” Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann said.

We no longer have a lot of time until the big games in order to hit our stride. It was no special performance. There are many points we need to improve that we keep discussing such as playing faster and not always over the wings.”

The Bavarians, chasing a record-extending 11th straight league title, had a treble chance to score before the equaliser but eventually ran out of gas against fellow Champions League club Eintracht. Union outplayed Hertha for their third straight victory of the year as they continued their remarkable season.

While Union celebrated their best ever run in the Bundesliga, Hertha sacked sports director Fredi Bobic following their sixth loss in the last seven league games that left them in 17th place.

Visitors Union took the lead a minute before the break with Danilho Doekhi beating two defenders in the air to head in a free kick after Hertha had made a confident start.

With the hosts desperate for an equaliser, Union struck again in the 67th minute with a textbook break that ended with Paul Seguin tapping in for a two-goal cushion.

Elsewhere, Freiburg beat Augsb­urg 3-1 at home to move into fourth place.

First-half goals by towering Austrian striker Michael Gregoritsch and fellow forward Lucas Hoeler put Freiburg in the driving seat.

A 29th-minute penalty from Mergim Berisha gave the visitors hope, but Freiburg sealed their first win of 2023 through an 85th-minute strike from Philipp Lienhart.

In Bremen, Germany striker Niclas Fuellkrug scored both his side’s goals in a 2-1 win over Wolfsburg, overtaking RB Leipzig forward Christopher Nkunku to top the Bundesliga scoring charts with 13 goals this season.

Promoted Werder Bremen, who had lost six of their past eight matches came up against an in-form Wolfsburg who were unbeaten in 11 games under former Bayern coach Niko Kovac.

Borussia Moenchengladbach compounded Hoffenheim’s misery with a 4-1 away win thanks to two goals and an assist from Jonas Hofmann. Hoffenheim suffered their sixth defeat in their last eight games, leaving them just three points clear of the relegation playoff spot.

Mainz overcame the disappointment of Wednesday’s last-gasp loss to Borussia Dortmund, thrashing Bochum 5-2 at home, their first win in seven league matches dating back to October.

Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2023

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