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Bundesliga: Bayern rescue draw late; Dortmund play for 25k fewer fans

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BERLIN (AP) Robert Lewandowski struck in the seventh minute of injury time for Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich to draw at Hertha Berlin 1-1 and avoid to its second defeat on Saturday.

[ MORE: FA Cup roundup — Premier League sides underwhelm in 5th round ]

Lewandowski rifled in the ball after Arjen Robben’s effort was blocked on the line, setting off celebrations cut short amid initial confusion over whether the goal stood.

Hertha had long been calling for the final whistle – five minutes of injury time were indicated – but Bayern’s last chance came when Peter Pekarik fouled Kingsley Coman on the edge of the penalty area. Thiago Alcantara sent the ball in for Robben to shoot. Lewandowski’s goal was eventually confirmed.

“A game lasts until the referee blows the whistle,” Hertha coach Pal Dardai said. “We’re disappointed. A win would not have been undeserved.”

It looked like Vedad Ibisevic’s first-half strike was going to be enough for Hertha to end its losing streak to Bayern with a hard-fought win.

Hertha had lost to Bayern in their previous 11 meetings, and captain Ibisevic hadn’t scored in seven league games, eight altogether.

The striker ended his 717-minute goal-drought to fire the home side ahead in the 21st minute when he was first to Marvin Plattenhardt’s free kick and beat Manuel Neuer at the near post.

Bayern, which routed Arsenal 5-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday, dominated but found it hard to penetrate Hertha’s hard-working defense. The home side remained compact, committed, and motivated.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side increased the pressure as the second half progressed but Bayern was forced from left to right and back again, occasionally sending in crosses that Rune Jarstein picked out or his defenders headed away and blocked until Lewandowski finally broke through.

“We ran to the end,” Bayern’s Thomas Mueller said. “We have the mentality.”

Hertha stayed sixth, while Bayern opened an eight-point lead over Leipzig, playing at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Sunday.

Hamburger SV was hosting Freiburg later Saturday.

[ MORE: Fifth-division Lincoln City shock PL side Burnley in FA Cup ]

Almost 25,000 Dortmund fans were prevented from attending the Lukasz Piszczek show. The Westfalenstadion’s south stand was closed due to fan trouble at previous games.

Some fans held protests against the German soccer federation’s decision, while Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said playing without the south stand was “like football without a ball.”

Players challenge for the ball in front of the empty south tribune during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and VfL Wolfsburg in Dortmund, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. The German Football Association (DFB) has called for Dortmund's famous south stand to be closed following crowd trouble in the Bundesliga match against RB Leipzig 2 weeks ago.  (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
(AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

Those attending saw a promising start but it was a Wolfsburg player who scored first, albeit at the wrong end when Jeffrey Bruma headed Piszczek’s flick past his own goalkeeper.

Piszczek, a defender, claimed a goal of his own right after the interval, heading in a cross from Ousmane Dembele, and he returned the favor to effectively seal the result before the hour-mark.

Bremen needed a win to ease the pressure on Alexander Nouri after four straight defeats since the winter break.

[ MORE: Wenger says he’ll manage next season, at Arsenal or not ]

The unmarked Serge Gnabry headed the early opener inside the far post from a corner and Thomas Delaney doubled the lead with a brilliant free kick minutes later.

Delaney was later taken to a hospital with suspected concussion, the only black mark on the afternoon for Bremen.

Ingolstadt scored early then Frankfurt’s David Abraham was sent off for a studs-up challenge into Dario Lezcano’s stomach.

The home side was given a lifeline when Ingolstadt `keeper Martin Hansen conceded a penalty, but he saved it, and Makoto Hasebe crashed the rebound off the crossbar with the goal at his mercy.

Ingolstadt’s Mathew Leckie earned a penalty at the other end, and it became 2-0, but Leckie was sent off late for a similar challenge to Abraham’s.

Two goals from Hoffenheim substitute Andrej Kramaric were enough to deal the bottom club its 10th away defeat.

“Three trophies and CL”: Mourinho relieved after “most difficult season”

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Don’t try to tell Jose Mourinho that his first season at Manchester United wasn’t a raging success, because all you’d get in return is a simple shake of the head before he walks away.

[ MORE: Pogba, Mkhitaryan fire Man United to Europa League trophy ]

Following Wednesday’s Europa League final victory over Ajax, one which put Man United into next season’s UEFA Champions League, Mourinho was adamant that the club’s 2016-17 season was a success, despite the fact the Red Devils finished sixth in the Premier League.

“Three trophies in one season and the Champions League,” as Mourinho put it, in his “most difficult season as a manager” — quotes from the BBC:

“We totally deserved the win. I am so happy to see the boys with the crutches with the trophy and now I am on holiday. I don’t want to see any international friendlies, I am selfish. I can’t do it.

“For me, enough is enough. It has been a very hard last few months, we were short of numbers.

“Three trophies in one season and the Champions League. I am very happy in my most difficult season as a manager.”

[ WATCH: Pogba gives United an early lead ]

As for his summer shopping list and Wayne Rooney‘s future at the club, well… Mourinho was much clearer about one than the other — quotes from the BBC:

“Ed Woodward has my list, what I want, what I would like for more than two months. So now it’s up to him and the owners. But I don’t care about football for now.

“Wayne Rooney was ready to play, he was a big option. But I didn’t need to attack at 2-0. I told him yesterday that he could be the key man but he can perfectly be here next season. He is a very important player for us. If he stays next season I’d be very happy.”

USMNT’s Gedion Zelalem out 6-9 months with knee injury

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Following much fanfare as he rose through the ranks of Arsenal’s youth academy system, and even more after officially pledging his international allegiance to the U.S., Gedion Zelalem‘s progress stalled a fair bit this season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | U-20 World Cup ]

After failing to force his way onto the fringes of Arsenal’s first team, the 20-year-old was sent out on loan to VVV Venlo, where he made just nine league appearances (one start) in the Dutch second division. Now, with the U.S. U-20 national team at the U-20 World Cup in South Korea, his tournament is over after just 34 minutes.

Zelalen suffered ligament damage to his left knee during the first half of the Americans’ tournament-opening draw with Ecuador. The Washington Post received confirmation on Wednesday, from Zelalem’s family, confirming that he’ll be sidelined for at least six months. An earlier report, from Football.London, pinned the recovery time at up to nine months.

[ MORE: Pogba, Mkhitaryan fire Man United to Europa League trophy ]

“For Gedion, this was his second U-20 World Cup, so his experience was invaluable for us,” said U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos. “His passing ability is second to none in this tournament, and we’ll miss that. He was running the team from his position.

Europa League final: Man United too tough for Ajax, qualify for UCL

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Though it may have required a minor detour in the journey to the intended destination, Jose Mourinho’s first season as Manchester United manager ultimately reached the promised land: qualification for next season’s UEFA Champions League.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Once it became clear that Man United’s season was unlikely to result in a top-four finish in the Premier League (they eventually wound up sixth), Mourinho put every Mancunian egg into the Europa League basket, and it paid off on Wednesday, as United topped Ajax, 2-0, in the Europa League final inside the Friends Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.

Paul Pogba put United 1-0 ahead after just 18 minutes (WATCH HERE), benefitting from a wicked deflection off a defender’s shin, and Mourinho’s famously rigid, organized midfield and defensive structure frustrated a young Ajax side (a starting lineup with an average age of just under 23 years old) that reached the final on the back of a free-flowing, attacking tidal wave.

[ WATCH: Pogba gives United an early lead ]

Down just a goal, Ajax needed little more than a moment of brilliance from any number of rising stars sure to fetch massive transfer fees and land big-money contracts elsewhere in Europe, in the not-so-distant future.

That hope lasted less than 180 seconds into the second half, though, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan doubled the lead, thanks to some unbelievably quick reflexes and a tidy overhead kick from three yards out. Ajax would manage just two shots on goal all night (four for United).

Not only did Mourinho deliver Champions League qualification, alongside a European trophy, United also claimed the EFL Cup back in February. With the allure of UCL football next season, expect another busy (and expensive) summer of spending at Old Trafford.

AT THE HALF: Man Utd lead Ajax in UEL final, thanks to Pogba (video)

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After 45 minutes of Wednesday’s Europa League final, between Manchester United and Ajax, in Stockholm, Sweden, Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils have one foot in next season’s UEFA Champions League.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

After a cagey opening 15 minutes that saw neither side create anything of consequence, Man United pulled ahead on a fair bit of luck in the 18th minute. Paul Pogba received the ball 25 yards from goal, took a touch toward goal and fired a low shot toward goal. Davinson Sanchez did everything he could to get his body in front of the strike, but the ball glanced off his shin, sending it one direction and goalkeeper Andre Onana the other.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Europa League final ] 

Having conceded just eight goals in 14.5 Europa League games thus far this season, would you bet on United conceding an equalizer in the final 45 minutes? Hit the link above to follow along, live.