Bundesliga Report: Dortmund score six, Leverkusen flounder

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Twenty goals have been scored in the seven Bundesliga matches played thus far this round, but an astonishing seven of them came in Friday’s match between Dortmund and Stuttgart. On Saturday, Bayern Munich were up to their old tricks, Leverkusen finally slipped up, and Hertha Berlin fell out of the European places.

Friday

Borussia Dortmund 6-1 Stuttgart
Stuttgart poked the sleeping giant and were deeply punished for it. Karim Haggui got things started for the visitors, but it took Dortmund just six minutes to respond. The equalizer came from Sokratis, of all sources. Than the usual suspects took over. Marco Reus gave Dortmund the lead before halftime. In the second half, Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick inside 20 minutes, then substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang finished it off with Dortmund’s sixth goal. Is it any wonder this side is in second? And how nervous are Arsenal now, :L:ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League match?

Want more? Check out our report on Dortmund’s win.

Saturday

Braunschweig 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Most Bundesliga fans were fairly confident that Leverkusen were sure to slip up soon — but almost no one thought it would be against bottom-side Braunschweig. But the Lions spent the majority of the match on top, and their hard work paid off in the 81st minute with a goal from Domi Kumbela. Leverkusen didn’t have so much as a shot after the goal, but Lars Bender did succeed in getting  himself sent off in injury time. Alas, Braunschweig remain dead last.

Hamburg 0-2 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Gladbach lifted themselves back into the Champions League places with their victory over Hamburg, and with Nurnberg up next, it seems like the Foals are in good position to remain there. It was Max Kruse, of course, that put in the goals, one on either side of the break. That’s five for Kruse thus far, and four assists. Who’s going to come calling for the forward?

Hertha Berlin 0-2 Schalke 04
Hertha slipped up for the second time in a row, and have now tumbled out of the Champions League spaces. Schalke, meanwhile, are lifting themselves back up, with goals from Adam Szalai and Julian Draxler. They’ll want to hold on to that winning feeling, as trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea is up next. And after losing 3-0 in the reverse fixture, Schalke will need all the optimism they can muster.

Hoffenheim 1-2 Bayern Munich
It’s almost becoming routine for Bayern Munich: let the other team score first, allowing them to think they’ve got a chance against the German giants, and then hit back for all three points. Niklas Süle gave Hoffenheim the lead for approximately five minutes, before Mario Mandzukic canceled it out. Thomas Müller put Bayern ahead with fifteen minutes left to play — and ensured his side maintained their narrow lead over Dortmund at the top.

Nurnberg 0-3 Freiburg
The two sides switched places in the table, but both remain under the threat of relegation. Felix Klaus scored first and, less than fifteen minutes later, Oliver Sorg picked up a second yellow and was sent off. With 20 minutes left to play, Nurnberg should’ve been able to find a way back into the match. Instead, Vladimir Darida scored just four minutes after coming on, and Admir Mehmedi followed it up with a goal in the 88th minute.

Eintracht Frankfurt 1-2 Wolfsburg
The hosts started off the match by generously gifting a goal to Wolfsburg. But the visitors were kind enough to allow Alexander Meier to put the ball past Diego Benaglio, making it all even at 35 minutes. But, with less than ten minutes left to play, Maximillian Arnold stuck one in for the visitors. That moves Wolfsburg up into fifth, just a point out of the Champions League places.

Still to come on Sunday

Augsburg – Mainz
Augsburg are just two points in the clear and, with Bayern on deck, could really use a home win. Mainz might be in 11th but are only three points above the hosts, and are displaying rather inconsistent form this season. The Fuggerstädter just might be able to nick this one.

Werder Bremen – Hannover
The two sides are separated by just a point, and both suffered rather harsh defeats last time out. Werder Bremen fell 3-0 at Wolfsburg, while Hannover lost 4-1 at home to Hoffenheim. Neither team have had a win since September. Will it be a goalless draw, or all out goal fest?

La Liga: Real Madrid win wild one, now just 17 points behind Barca

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Barcelona ties club-record 31-game unbeaten run ]

Real Betis 3-5 Real Madrid

So long as they manage to hold off Sevilla for fourth place (Champions League qualification), Real Madrid will quickly move on from their disastrous 2017-18 season, spend a half-billion dollars in the summer and pretend like the 12 preceding months never even happened.

For a brief period on Saturday — nearly 30 minutes including the halftime intermission — that plan appeared fatally flawed and at risk. After going 1-0 up away to Real Betis courtesy of Marco Asensio’s 11th-minute opener, Los Blancos found themselves in big trouble after Aissa Mandi leveled things up in the 33rd minute, followed by a Nacho own goal four minutes later.

Five minutes into the second half, Sergio Ramos drew the visitors level, followed by another from Asensio in the 59th minute. Cristiano Ronaldo made it 4-2 six minutes later, at which point Madrid appeared home free.

Sergio Leon pulled Betis to within one in the 85th minute, but Karim Benzema restored the two-goal lead in the 91st, less than two minutes after replacing Ronaldo.

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Athletic Bilbao

With Barcelona still unbeaten on the La Liga season, the title is all but decided with more than three months still to play. That hasn’t stopped Atleti, though, as Diego Simeone’s side, which has lost just once in the league, continues to pursue Lionel Messi and Co. Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao moved Los Rojiblancos back to within seven points of Barca with a dozen games, and one head-to-head matchup, still to play.

Kevin Gameiro scored what turned out to be the winner in the 67th minute, followed not long after by Diego Costa‘s second league goal of the season (fourth in all competitions) to make it 2-0.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Sociedad 3-0 Levante
Espanyol 1-1 Villarreal

VAR provider apologizes for wrong image of offside Man Utd goal

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Whether or not you’re in favor of the use of video-assistant refereeing the world over — and, more specifically, English soccer — one thing on which we can all agree has become abundantly clear: VAR’s maiden voyage has been a chaotic, poorly conducted mess.

[ MORE: Jose Mourinho demands VAR calls be “perfect” ]

Any change to the game’s century-old rules and practices — especially of VAR’s monumental proportions — must be implemented and executed without a hitch. Any issues that had arisen prior to this weekend were minor in significance and import, but that all changed on Saturday, when Manchester United’s Juan Mata had a goal wiped away by VAR (WATCH HERE).

Mata appeared to have timed his run perfectly and been onside before slotting home to put Man United 2-0 ahead of Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup fifth round. After consulting the off-site video assistant, the goal was taken off the board. While the slightest bit of Mata’s knee appeared to have been in an offside position, the issue lies in the fact that the images provided to television broadcasters, by VAR provider Hawkeye, displayed a clearly crooked line of demarcation.

[ MORE: Man Utd draw Brighton in FA Cup QF; Chelsea get Leicester ]

Hawkeye issued a statement on Sunday, acknowledging and apologizing for the faulty image provided to broadcasters, but insisted that a correct version of the image was seen by the refereed:

“A technical error led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawkeye to BT Sport on Saturday. To confirm, the VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologize.”

In the end, by the most stringent interpretation of the law, VAR got the call correct. But that won’t matter one iota in the court of public opinion, as one mistake as simple as a crooked line gives the impression that the entire operation is haphazard and not fit for practice.

Juventus suffers blow with apparent Higuain injury

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The back-and-forth battle at the top of Serie A continued on Sunday as Juventus topped Torino at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino, however, the visitors suffered a big injury scare in the process.

[ MORE: Man United draws Brighton, Chelsea gets Leicester in FA Cup ]

Alex Sandro‘s winner came in the 33rd minute, but the focus of the match will leave all eyes on Gonzalo Higuain — who exited after just a quarter of an hour.

The Argentine international was looking to latch onto a through ball from Miralem Pjanic in the fifth minute, before jumping over an oncoming Salvatore Sirigu — goalkeeper for Torino.

Higuain appeared to land awkwardly on his ankle, though, and while he attempted to continue on in the match he was substituted off for Federico Bernardeschi 10 minutes later.

The extent of Higuain’s injury is unknown to this point, however, it comes at a very bad time for Juventus.

The Italian giants are heavily involved in the Serie A title race, holding a two-point lead over Napoli at the top of the table.

Additionally, Juve has important fixtures coming up in both the Coppa Italia and Champions League against Atalanta and Tottenham, respectively. Higuain and Co. are level at 2-2 with Spurs heading into their UCL second leg in early March, and Juve will surely need the striker’s presence to have a shot at advancing to the quarterfinals.

Rochdale 2-2 Tottenham: Davies stuns Spurs late

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A valiant effort from a League One side has rewarded the minnows with a replay set to be played at Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur looked on its way towards the FA Cup sixth round on Sunday, but a late finish by Steven Davies gave Rochdale a 2-2 draw with the Premier League club at the Spotland Stadium.

[ MORE: Willian stars as Chelsea routs Hull in FA Cup ]

Harry Kane — who scored his 34th goal on the season in all competitions — converted from the penalty spot in the 88th minute, however, Davies had the final say deep into stoppage time to send the two sides towards a replay.

Ian Henderson’s finish in the 45th minute gave Rochdale a gift at the conclusion of the first stanza, after the hosts capitalized on a Spurs giveaway near midfield.

Meanwhile, Tottenham managed to level the match at 1-1 on the hour mark when Lucas Moura calmly slotted his close-range shot past goalkeeper Josh Lillis after a timely through ball from Moussa Sissoko picked out the former PSG man.

The visitors began pressing on in the second half, with Mauricio Pochettino‘s side having trailed at the halftime break.

The two sides will now meet on either Feb. 27 or 28 in the reverse fixture to decide which team advances. The winner will either meet Sheffield Wednesday or Swansea City in the quarterfinals.