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Bundesliga wrap: Mainz holds Bayern; Kruse bags four

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RB Leipzig has a chance to close the Bundesliga gap to six points after Bayern Munich dropped points to Mainz on Saturday.

[ FA CUP SEMI: Chelsea 4-2 Spurs ]

Despite hosting the match, the Allianz Arena needed a pair of equalizers to gain a point.

Bayern Munich 2-2 Mainz

A huge boost for the visitors, who likely didn’t expect this relegation safety aid. Stoke City loanee Bojan Krkic scored early and Daniel Brosinski converted a penalty to give Mainz 1-0 and 2-1 leads, but Arjen Robben and Thiago Alcantara arranged a point for the Bavarians.

Ingolstadt 2-4 Werder Bremen

Max Kruse scored not one, not two, not three, but four goals as once relegation-threatened Werder surged up the table and into sixth place. The visitors trailed 2-1 with 10 minutes to play when Kruse scored in the 81st, 87th, and fourth minute of stoppage time.

Borussia Monchengladbach 2-3 Borussia Dortmund

BVB overcame throwing away an early lead and conceding an own goal to climb into third place on goals from Marco Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Raphael Guerreiro.

USMNT phenom Christian Pulisic went 90 minutes for BVB, won 10 duels and made more sprints (42) than anyone else in the match.

Koln 1-1 Hoffenheim

If you missed it Friday, this is how Kerem Demirbay nabbed the point which ensure Hoffenheim will make its first trip to European competition by virtue of a Top Six finish.

Elsewhere
Hertha Berlin 1-0 Wolfsburg
 – Ibisevic scores
Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 Augsburg – Two for El Tri’s Fabian
Hamburg 1-2 Darmstadt – Sulu, Platte with goals
Freiburg vs. Bayer Leverkusen – 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Schalke vs. RB Leipzig – 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday

Standings

 

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 30 21 7 2 73 17 56 11-4-0 10-3-2 70
 RB Leipzig 29 19 4 6 55 30 25 12-1-2 7-3-4 61
 Borussia Dortmund 30 16 8 6 65 35 30 11-3-0 5-5-6 56
 1899 Hoffenheim 30 14 13 3 57 32 25 10-5-0 4-8-3 55
 Hertha BSC Berlin 30 14 4 12 38 35 3 12-1-2 2-3-10 46
 Werder Bremen 30 12 6 12 50 51 -1 7-1-7 5-5-5 42
 1. FC Köln 30 10 11 9 43 37 6 7-6-2 3-5-7 41
 Eintracht Frankfurt 30 11 8 11 32 34 -2 7-6-2 4-2-9 41
 SC Freiburg 29 12 5 12 36 51 -15 8-1-5 4-4-7 41
 Mönchengladbach 30 11 6 13 39 44 -5 7-3-5 4-3-8 39
 FC Schalke 04 29 10 7 12 38 34 4 8-3-4 2-4-8 37
 Bayer Leverkusen 29 10 6 13 42 44 -2 5-5-5 5-1-8 36
 FSV Mainz 05 30 9 6 15 39 49 -10 6-4-5 3-2-10 33
 VfL Wolfsburg 30 9 6 15 30 43 -13 5-2-8 4-4-7 33
 Hamburger SV 30 9 6 15 30 55 -25 7-3-5 2-3-10 33
 FC Augsburg 30 8 8 14 29 49 -20 4-5-6 4-3-8 32
 FC Ingolstadt 04 30 8 4 18 33 54 -21 4-3-8 4-1-10 28
 Darmstadt 30 6 3 21 23 58 -35 5-3-7 1-0-14 21

Multiple reports: Watford set to hire Gracia as manager

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Watford looks set to appoint Javi Gracia to its managerial position, hours after firing Marco Silva and blaming Everton for the manager.

[ MORE: Watford fires Silva, blames Everton ]

Gracia led Malaga to eighth and ninth place finishes in La Liga between 2014-16 before spending last season at Rubin Kazan.

Gracia, 47, has led promotion campaigns in Spain and has plenty of experience with perceived smaller clubs battling the drop zone.

Watford will hope the Hornets don’t reach that point, still five points clear of the drop after flirting with the Top Seven for the first quarter of the Premier League season.

Latest: Sunday medicals for Mkhitaryan, Sanchez

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan has agreed to join Arsenal from Manchester United, clearing the path for Alexis Sanchez to join the Old Trafford set.

[ MORE: 2 Robbies on the deal ]

The BBC is reporting that both players will undergo medicals at their proposed new clubs on Sunday ahead of a straight swap deal.

Sanchez, 29, has scored 80 goals for Arsenal since arriving before the 2014-15 campaign, including 30 last season.

Mkhitaryan turns 30 this summer, and has struggled at Manchester United since posting five assists in his first three matches of the season.

[ MORE: Watford sacks Silva ]

He was, however, a combination of Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in his final season at Borussia Dortmund, scoring 23 goals with 32 assists.

This could be win-win, as Mkhitaryan at his best is a like-for-like replacement for Mesut Ozil should the German leave in the summer and Sanchez is a more proven PL commodity (though his attitude should be a major question for the United room).

Watford fires Silva, blames Everton

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Watford has fired Marco Silva as manager, and it’s blaming Everton.

The Hornets are 1W-2D-8L in their last 11 Premier League matches after Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Leicester City, and have won just three in the league since the Toffees sacked Ronald Koeman on Oct. 23.

[ REPORT: Stoke to add hometown Harrison from NYCFC ]

Watford sat fifth in the table at that point, and has dropped to 10th. That’s five points clear of the drop zone and eight points back of eighth.

Silva was chased hard by Everton, and Watford rejected all advances for the Portuguese boss. The Toffees ended up hiring Sam Allardyce in a move which has also gone south.

Here’s the guts of Watford’s released statement:

The Club is convinced the appointment of Silva was the right one and had it not been for the unwarranted approach by a Premier League rival for his services we would have continued to prosper under his leadership.

The catalyst for this decision is that unwarranted approach, something which the Board believes has seen a significant deterioration in both focus and results to the point where the long-term future of Watford FC has been jeopardised.

Watford will appoint its ninth manager since the start of the 2012-13 season. It faces Southampton in the FA Cup on Saturday before a midweek league visit to fellow relegation struggler Stoke City on Jan. 31.

Silva is the eighth manager fired since the beginning of the Premier League season, joining Frank De Boer, Craig Shakespeare, Ronald Koeman, Slaven Bilic, Tony Pulis, Paul Clement, and Mark Hughes.

Liga MX wrap: Pachuca earns first win, Leon stays unbeaten

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All of Saturday’s action from around Mexico’s top flight…

Pachuca 3-1 Lobos BUAP

A strong first-half push from the hosts was all Pachuca needed on Saturday night to earn their first victory of the 2018 Clausura season. Angel Sagal brought the home side in front after just 10 minutes off of a near-post header, before Pachuca’s lead soon doubled 14 minutes later from the penalty spot when strike Franco Jara converted on the dead-ball attempt.

Just prior to halftime, Pachuca was out to a 3-0 advantage when 20-year-old outside back Erick Aguirre tallied his first goal for the club.

Last-place side Lobos got on the board three minutes into the second stanza via a finish from Heriberto Olvera, however, it wasn’t enough to provide anything more than a consolation for the visiting side.

Necaxa 1-3 Chivas Guadalajara

Mexican international Alan Pulido made it a dream start for the visitors from Guadalajara at the Estadio Victoria, however, that lead was cancelled out in first-half stoppage time after Carlos Gonzalez leveled the match up at 1-1.

The difference proved to be with 25 minutes left to play, when a goalkeeping error by Marcelo Barovero allowed Chivas to regain possession inside the Necaxa penalty area, before Ronaldo Cisneros tapped home the winner.

Then, a third goal came just prior to the end of regulation when Edwin Hernandez killed the game off for Matias Almeyda’s men, who also earned their first victory of the Clausura season.

Rest of Saturday’s Liga MX action

Cruz Azul 0-0 Club Leon
Queretaro 0-0 Tigres UANL
Monterrey 0-0 Club Tijuana

Sunday’s matches

UNAM vs. Club America — 1 p.m. ET
Santos Laguna vs. Morelia — 7 p.m. ET