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Leverkusen fends off interest in Germany midfielder Brandt

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LEVERKUSEN, Germany (AP) Bayer Leverkusen has warded off interest in Julian Brandt by extending the 21-year-old Germany midfielder’s contract by two years to 2021.

[READ: TFC takes commanding lead over Club America in CCL]

“With this step we have managed to convince one of the most sought-after German players to continue on the same path as us,” Leverkusen managing director Michael Schade said Wednesday. “To have beaten off absolute top competition for Julian from home and abroad is a huge success for us.”

A quick player with outstanding technical ability, Brandt has long been linked with Bundesliga rival Bayern Munich.

“I feel really good here and I see that something really big is developing here,” Brandt. “That was shown by the recent contract extensions for Jonathan Tah and Lars Bender. They two of them are convinced like me that we can achieve something with this team.”

Brandt joined Leverkusen from Wolfsburg’s under-19 team in January 2014 and has since made 165 appearances, scoring 24 goals and setting up 25 more. He has six goals and four assists so far in the Bundesliga this season.

“Julian was already an outstanding player as a 17-year-old when he came to us,” Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voeller said. “However, he would probably not have reached his current level as quickly without the playing time that he got with us.”

Brandt, Germany’s youngest squad member for the recent friendlies against Spain and Brazil, has made 14 appearances for the national team and is a likely pick for Joachim Loew’s World Cup team.

Leverkusen is fifth in the Bundesliga and fighting for Champions League qualification with six games remaining.

Bundesliga wrap: Schalke goes second, Leipzig drops sixth

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RB Leizpig were the losers of the weekend as the congested battle for UEFA Champions League places continued down the home stretch of the Bundesliga season.

[ MORE: Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle ]

Schalke, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Bayer Leverkusen wins mean last season’s runners-up sit sixth with nine matches to play.

Schalke 1-0 Hertha Berlin

Marko Pjaca scored his second goal in five Bundesliga appearances to push Schalke past Hertha Berlin on the day and ahead of rivals BVB on the table.

RB Leipzig 1-1 Borussia Dortmund

The hosts couldn’t find a way to defy BVB after red-hot Marco Reus canceled out Jean-Kevin Augustin’s opener to leave it level at halftime.

BVB remains unbeaten under Peter Stoger, and Christian Pulisic was a late sub for the visitors with Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle drawing starts on the wings.

Stoger did admit he felt Reus was off, though it seems razor-thin onside to these eyes:

“I already noticed that Reus’ foot was offside, it was an outstanding pass which we worked on being able to play. If you find the right way there you can be dangerous, that’s what we did here.”

Wolfsburg 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen

Lucas Alario’s 39th minute goal was joined by Julian Brandt’s below goal to give the visitors a two-goal lead, but Admir Mehmedi scored a minute after Brandt to set up a grandstand finish. All that arrived for Wolfsburg, however, was William’s second yellow card to condemn the hosts to 10 men on the edge of stoppage time.

Elsewhere
Borussia Monchengladbach 2-2 Werder BremenRECAP
Eintracht Frankfurt 1-0 Hannover 96
Augsburg 0-2 Hoffenheim
Hamburg 0-0 Mainz — Hosts miss PK, have VAR overrule goal
Koln vs. Stuttgart — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Freiburg vs. Bayern Munch — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Bayern Munich 24 19 3 2 55 18 37 10-2-0 9-1-2 60
 FC Schalke 04 25 12 7 6 39 30 9 7-4-2 5-3-4 43
 Borussia Dortmund 25 11 9 5 50 31 19 5-4-3 6-5-2 42
 Eintracht Frankfurt 25 12 6 7 33 27 6 6-3-4 6-3-3 42
 Bayer Leverkusen 25 11 8 6 45 33 12 5-4-3 6-4-3 41
 RB Leipzig 25 11 6 8 38 34 4 7-4-2 4-2-6 39
 1899 Hoffenheim 25 9 8 8 40 38 2 6-4-2 3-4-6 35
 Mönchengladbach 25 10 5 10 33 37 -4 6-3-4 4-2-6 35
 FC Augsburg 25 8 8 9 33 32 1 5-4-4 3-4-5 32
 Hannover 96 25 8 8 9 32 35 -3 6-3-3 2-5-6 32
 Hertha BSC Berlin 25 7 10 8 30 31 -1 4-4-4 3-6-4 31
 VfB Stuttgart 24 9 3 12 20 27 -7 8-1-3 1-2-9 30
 SC Freiburg 24 6 11 7 25 38 -13 5-6-1 1-5-6 29
 Werder Bremen 25 6 9 10 24 30 -6 4-4-4 2-5-6 27
 VfL Wolfsburg 25 4 13 8 28 33 -5 2-7-4 2-6-4 25
 FSV Mainz 05 25 6 7 12 29 42 -13 5-2-5 1-5-7 25
 Hamburger SV 25 4 6 15 18 35 -17 3-4-6 1-2-9 18
 1. FC Köln 24 4 5 15 22 43 -21 2-3-7 2-2-8 17

Schalke wins 2-0 at Leverkusen to move 3rd in Bundesliga

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BERLIN (AP) Nabil Bentaleb‘s late penalty sealed a 2-0 win for Schalke at 10-man Bayer Leverkusen, lifting his team to third in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

Leverkusen was left to rue Dominik Kohr’s sending off in the first half as the home side missed the chance to go second and instead dropped to fifth, outside the Champions League qualification places.

[ MORE: Man City 3-1 Arsenal | 3 things ]

Guido Burgstaller fired the visitors into an early lead after a long ball over the top from Daniel Caligiuri. The Schalke forward did well to lift the ball over Leverkusen defender Panagiotis Retsos before dispatching past goalkeeper Bernd Leon inside the left post.

Leon Bailey came very close to equalizing with Leverkusen’s best chance of the half, but the hosts took a hit shortly before the break when Kohr was sent off with his second yellow card for a late tackle, minutes after earning his first for the same.

Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich brought on Argentine forward Lucas Alario after the break, and then went all out with two more forwards, Stefan Kiessling and Karim Bellarabi, for the closing stages.

However, the best chance fell to Schalke’s Breel Embolo, denied by a brilliant reflex save from Leno.

Retsos brought down Embolo in the penalty area, allowing Bentaleb to seal the win from the spot in the 89th minute.

Leipzig had the chance to go second later Sunday with a win over last-place Cologne.

German FA investigating a dive… by a Bundesliga coach

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) The German soccer association is investigating an apparent dive by Bayer Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich during the side’s German Cup game at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Wednesday.

The DFB says, “There is the suspicion that the coach of Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen allowed himself to fall after a shove from the `Gladbach player Denis Zakaria on the sideline and thus behaved in an unsporting manner.”

Leverkusen was winning 1-0 in the 75th minute when Herrlich fell under light contact from Zakaria.

Herrlich apologized after the game, saying, “That certainly looked stupid and I want to apologize for it.”

Leverkusen held on to win the game, 1-0.

Leon Bailey stars but Bayer Leverkusen held 4-4 by Hannover

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BERLIN (AP) Jamaica striker Leon Bailey scored twice after coming on as a substitute but Bayer Leverkusen failed to hang on as Hannover grabbed a 4-4 draw in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

[ MORE: Liverpool smashes Bournemouth to move fourth ]

Bailey, who came on at the break, needed only two minutes to equalize after Hannover had gone 3-2 ahead, and he scored again 20 minutes later to put Leverkusen 4-3 in front.

But the 20-year-old missed another chance to complete a hat trick and Julian Korb scored late for Hannover to draw.

“I had a third chance, and I just know if I had taken that chance it would have been over for them. It’s just unlucky. But that’s football,” said Bailey. “A wise man learns from his mistakes. But a wiser man learns from others’ mistakes.”

Both teams traded goals on an afternoon to forget for the goalkeepers.

“It was worth the entrance price for the spectators,” Korb said.

Julian Brandt fired Leverkusen into an early lead with a brilliant volley but Ihlas Bebou replied straight away with a header for Hannover.

Niclas Fuellkrug put the home side ahead with a penalty, only for Admir Mehmedi to equalize four minutes later for Leverkusen.

Hannover went ahead again after Fuellkrug set up Felix Klaus with his heel before the break, when Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich reacted with two substitutions.

One of them was Bailey, who raced forward to reach Kai Havertz’s through ball and kept his cool to beat Hannover `keeper Philipp Tschauner.

Bailey claimed his sixth goal of the season after the game’s longest stretch without a goal when Mehmedi played him through on a counterattack after a Hannover corner.

But there was further drama to come as Bebou eluded three Leverkusen defenders to set up Korb for Hannover’s equalizer with seven minutes remaining.

Leipzig, level on points with Leverkusen, had the chance to go second again with a win at home against Hertha Berlin later Sunday.