Bundesliga Report: Bayer, Dortmund both fall short

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Bayern Munich face off against Raja Casablanca on Saturday night to determine which club is the best in the world. But the German side, despite having recently lost to Manchester City, have little need to prove their worth. After both Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen lost in Round 17, should Bayern win their next match, they’ll be 10 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga table.

Friday

Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Augsburg
The hosts spent the first 30 minutes simply trying to close down Augsburg, but after Raul Bobadilla opened the scoring, Frankfurt wasted hardly any time getting back into the match. Jan Rosenthal equalized ten minutes later, grabbing a much needed point for his side, who are just barely staying above the relegation zone.

Saturday

Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Hertha Berlin
On paper, this match should’ve been simple for one of Germany’s top three sides. Instead, Hertha Berlin capitalized on Dortmund’s continuing defensive woes. The hosts took first blood with a goal from Marco Reus, but by the break, Hertha had put themselves ahead. Sami Allagui had a hand in both goals, setting up Adrián Ramos for the first and putting in the second himself. The win lifts Hertha back into the European positions, while Dortmund are now in danger of being overtaken by rivals Gladbach, should they win on Sunday.

Braunschweig 1-0 Hoffenheim
Yes, Braunschweig, who started the weekend dead last, managed to hold off Hoffenheim and collect all three points, despite being down to just ten men for the final ten minutes. A penalty converted by Torsten Oehrl was all the hosts needed to claim victory.

Freiburg 2-1 Hannover
Freiburg gave themselves a much needed boost thanks to a first-half brace from Admir Mehmedi. The visitors pulled one back thanks to a last-minute header from Leonardo Bittencourt, but that wasn’t enough to stop Freiburg from putting themselves within one point of safety.

Hamburg 2-3 Mainz
Possibly the best game of the Bundesliga weekend thus far, this match was a lively back-and-forth affair. The hosts got things started with a goal from Hakan Calhanoglu, but Shinji Okazaki had his side in front early in the second half. He scored in the 47th minute and then provided the assist for Nicolai Müller’s go-ahead goal three minutes later. Both sides continued to press, but it was Hamburg that struck next, a close-range shot from Rafael van der Vaart. But when Tomás Rincón was sent off a few minutes later, HSV knew they had to settle for a draw. Things didn’t go quite as planned, however. Okazaki struck once more, in injury time, and Mainz ended up with all three points.

Werder Bremen 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Werder started the day 21 points behind the visitors, yet somehow managed to emerge victorious. A fast break, a ball from edrick Makiadi, a finish from Santiago Garcia, and all the hosts needed to do was hold on for the final fifteen minutes. They managed — taking not another shot — and by the time Bayern play their 17th match, Leverkusen could very well be 10 points off the pace.

Nurnberg – Schalke
There’s very little to say about this scoreless draw that leaves Nurnberg in dead last and Schalke still outside the European positions.

Sunday

Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Wolfsburg
A win for the Foals and they’ll move in front of rivals Dortmund — and into the Champions League places. But Wolfsburg won’t make it easy, as a Gladbach scalping will move them even with their opponents in fourth place. Both sides are on impressive runs as well: Gladbach are unbeaten in seven, Wolfsburg in eight. Why would you not want to watch this match?

Everton loses Coleman to leg break on Ireland duty

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A horror tackle from Wales’ Neil Taylor snapped Seamus Coleman‘s leg in gruesome fashion on Friday.

Taylor was given a red card, and Coleman was stretched off the pitch in the 0-0 draw.

[ MORE: UEFA World Cup qualifying wrap ]

Ireland manager Martin O’Neill confirmed what was apparent from the match replay: the Everton man has a broken ankle.

“It’s a bad break. He’s a fantastic player and character. It’s a major blow for the lad, his club and us.

“Apparently it wasn’t the best challenge in the world – I haven’t seen it. He’s gone to hospital. I saw his reaction immediately and it didn’t look good. He was holding is leg up and it didn’t look good.

This is not only awful for the player, but causes stress as Everton mounts its assault on the Top Six. The right back has also manned right mid for Ronald Koeman this season, and has four goals and four assists in 26 Premier League matches.

Mason Holgate, Muhamed Besic, and Phil Jagielka have played some right back for Everton, while Ramiro Funes Mori has deputized at left back.

Emotional McClean speaks after honoring deceased teammate (video)

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After wearing the No. 5 to honor of his recently deceased teammate, James McClean met with the media following Ireland’s 0-0 draw with Wales in World Cup qualifying on Friday.

McClean played with Ryan McBride at Derry City, and left Ireland camp to attend funeral services after McBride died following a match last weekend. McClean was also mourning the death of friend and Sinn Féin politician Martin McGuinness.

Throw in a gruesome injury to teammate Seamus Coleman and, in McClean’s words, “I’ve had better weeks”.

[ MORE: UEFA World Cup qualifying wrap ]

McClean, 27, spoke with evident emotion following a Man of the Match turn in Ireland’s draw (video below).

“It was a really tough week. The lads here have been great. They rallied around me. The manager was first class as well. He let me go up to Derry there on Tuesday and say my goodbyes. It’s been a tough week with Seamus injury as well. It’d been nice if we had have got a win and ended on a positive note, but it wasn’t to be.

“(McBride and McGuinness) were going through my thoughts today. I wanted to put in a performance that would make them proud. In the national anthem and the moment’s applause, holding my wee girl, it was emotional but I tried to put that in the right way into my performance. Hopefully tonight I’ve done the lads proud.”

World Cup qualifiers: Wales in trouble; Buffon hits 1000

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Friday’s matches mark the midway point of the main round of qualifying in UEFA, and the tables remain tight near the top of Groups D and G.

[ MORE: Smalling hurt, Gibson called up ]

Group I, however, is seeing some distance between first and second thanks to Croatia’s result versus Ukraine.

Republic of Ireland 0-0 Wales

Neil Taylor was sent off in the 69th minute for Wales, whose World Cup hopes are in trouble.

Seamus Coleman was stretchered off after the tackle, with a scary-looking injury that will leave Everton fans sick in more ways than one. Coleman’s leg was broken, and left dangling by the challenge.

Ireland couldn’t take advantage of the sending off, and failed in a bid to overtake Serbia for first in Group D. The Irish trail on goal differential, and will host Serbia on Sept. 5.

But Wales will rue the result more, remaining four points back of second-place Ireland. Chris Coleman’s side drops a point behind Austria as well, and will not have Taylor or Gareth Bale (card accumulation) in its next match. That comes against leaders Serbia.

Italy 2-0 Albania

Daniele De Rossi scored a 12th minute penalty kick won by Andrea Belotti, and Ciro Immobile scored late to provided the goals in Gianluigi Buffon’s 1000th appearance for club and country. Fittingly, it ended in a clean sheet. The match was briefly delayed after flares were thrown onto the field.

Spain 4-1 Israel

David Silva, Vitolo, and Diego Costa stakes the Spaniards to a three-goal lead, with Lior Refaelov ruining David De Gea‘s clean sheet with 11 minutes to play. Isco scored the match’s final goal.

Spain remains atop Group G on goal differential, eight better than second place Italy. Israel is four points behind both.

Croatia 1-0 Ukraine

Fiorentina’s Nikola Kalinic’s 38th minute goal was enough for the hosts, and Croatia is now five points clear of Ukraine and three above Iceland midway through qualifying.

Elsewhere
Austria 2-0 Moldova — RB Leipzig’s Sabitzer nabs winner
Liechtenstein 0-3 Macedonia — Ilija Nestorovski bags brace
Kosovo 1-2 Iceland — Sigurdsson PK the match winner
Georgia 1-3 Serbia — Mitrovic, Tadic lead the way
Turkey 2-0 Finland — Brace for Cenk Tosun

Boro’s Gibson called to England after injury to Man Utd’s Smalling

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Scoring goals has been the biggest problem for Middlesbrough in its return to the Premier League, and that overshadows how well the Northeast club has defended its own goal.

Ben Gibson has been a huge part of that, and now he’ll earn the chance to represent his nation thanks to an injury to Chris Smalling. Gibson will join England ahead of Sunday’s home World Cup qualifier against Lithuania.

[ MORE: Podolski leads Germany past England ]

Gibson has far and away been Boro’s best player, leading the side in blocked shots and clearances. The blocked shots total is tied for ninth in the Premier League, 11 behind current leader and new England teammate Michael Keane.

Smalling’s undisclosed injury is a bigger problem for Manchester United, which had already lost center back depth on England duty when Phil Jones was hurt.