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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.

Retailer removes T-shirt from sale over Hillsborough links

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LONDON (AP) A British retailer has withdrawn a T-shirt from sale in its stores and online following complaints that its design could be associated with the Hillsborough soccer disaster.

[ MORE: Liverpool, Man City drawn in UCL quarterfinals ]

Topman had on sale a red shirt with a large “96” on the back and the phrase “what goes around comes around” underneath. The word “Karma” is written on one of the sleeves.

Ninety-six people were crushed to death in the Hillsborough stadium disaster, which happened in Sheffield in April 1989 at an FA Cup semifinal match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

Topman said it “apologizes unreservedly for any offense caused by this T-shirt” and that the “garment has been removed from sale online and in stores.”

The retailer said the design was inspired by a Bob Marley track, with the number referring to the year of the re-release.

Cosmos, Miami FC petition USSF for 2018 U.S. Open Cup entry

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NASL’s decision to cancel the 2018 regular season has caused significant ramifications, with the latest forcing several clubs to be excluded from the U.S. Open Cup.

The New York Cosmos and Miami FC — both of whom participated in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup have not been named among the eligible teams for the 2018 edition following NASL’s cancellation of the league season.

Now, the two teams have petitioned to U.S. Soccer and its new president, Carlos Cordeiro, to rethink its decision and allow the clubs to play despite not belonging to a professional league.

Both clubs do boast reserve teams though — New York Cosmos B and Miami 2 — which is the lead argument from each organization as to why U.S. Soccer should grant the teams an exemption and a spot in the tournament.

Cosmos B and Miami FC 2 will both play in the NPSL once again in 2018, with both rosters largely comprised of senior team players.

As it stands, 94 teams have been placed in the 2018 Open Cup field, as announced by U.S. Soccer on Wednesday.

Both open letters from the respective clubs can be found below.

Brazil’s Luis could miss World Cup after leg fracture

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MADRID (AP) Brazilian left back Filipe Luis has a leg fracture that could stop him going to the World Cup in Russia.

[ MORE: Arsenal draws CSKA Moscow in Europa quarters ]

Atletico Madrid said Friday that Luis sustained the injury to his left leg in the second half of the Spanish team’s 5-1 rout of Lokomotiv Moscow in the Europa League round-of-16 match on Thursday.

The club did not say how long Luis will be sidelined. Similar injuries have required at least six weeks of recovery time and longer if surgery is required.

The 32-year-old Luis was called up by Brazil coach Tite for friendlies against Russia in Moscow on March 23 and against Germany in Berlin on March 27. Brazil’s first game at the World Cup is against Switzerland on June 17.

Luis was injured while trying to prevent Lokomotiv forward Eder taking a shot from inside the area in the 60th minute. He successfully cleared the ball but his leg was hit from behind.

Luis left the field on a stretcher and tests Friday in Madrid confirmed the fracture in his lower leg.

Atletico advanced 8-1 on aggregate after the victory in Russia.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Casemiro: Neymar “would get along very well with Cristiano” at Real

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The speculation (transfer) train keeps chugging along as domestic seasons near their conclusion, and one rumor continues to be fueled linking one of the world’s top players to Real Madrid.

[ MORE: FA Cup preview ]

Neymar’s time at Paris Saint-Germain has been short, less than a season to be precise, but the Brazil international could be moving on from the Parc des Princes sooner rather than later after his side crashed out of the UEFA Champions League recently against Real.

Nothing concrete has been determined about Neymar’s future, but Real Madrid continues to be linked with the South American star, and one current Real player feels Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo would get along “very well.”

“[Neymar] has always been spectacular, since he was 11 years old. He does crazy things,” Real midfielder Casemiro told El Partidazo .l”I don’t think there is any chance that he will come to Real, but you have to ask [Madrid president] Florentino Perez.

“He knows that the door is always open for him in Madrid, but he is happy in Paris. He always says that he is happy there, that he is comfortable in Paris. There are many Brazilians there too, it is very quiet there, but whether it’s possible you have to ask Florentino.

“With the quality that he has, I would sign him for sure. I hope he comes this season.

“He is a great player, one of the top three in the world. He can do whatever he wants off the pitch if he continues to do what he does on it.

“He would get along very well with Cristiano, very well.”

Real is currently in the midst of a historic run in the Champions League, having won the competition three times in the last four seasons.

Casemiro isn’t the only Real player eager to bring in a talent such as Neymar though.

Defender Dani Carvajal also recently told the media that he would be ecstatic to have a teammate like the Brazilian come into the fold at the Santiago Bernabeu.