Borussia Dortmund

Bayern's Robert Lewandowski, front left, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hertha BSC Berlin and FC Bayern Munich in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
AP Photo/Michael Sohn

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.

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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.

Dortmund investigating 61 fans after trouble at Leipzig game

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 22:   Borussia Dortmund fans show their support during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Arsenal and  Borussia Dortmund at Emirates Stadium on October 22, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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DORTMUND, Germany (AP) Borussia Dortmund has identified 61 fans suspected of being involved with offensive and defamatory banners displayed during the Bundesliga game against Leipzig.

The suspects face sanctions that could include stadium bans, club expulsion, the cancellation of season tickets and possible civil charges, depending on the seriousness of the violations, Dortmund said Friday on its website.

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They were identified with the help of police who opened 32 preliminary investigations against supporters caught up in the violence outside the stadium on Feb. 4. Dortmund said that could rise to 40 or 50 in the coming weeks. The individuals will also face sanctions on a case-by-case basis after a club hearing.

Dortmund’s game at home on Saturday against Wolfsburg is subject to a partial stadium closure affecting almost 25,000 fans because of the abusive banners against Leipzig and for disturbances at several other games this season. The club was also fined 100,000 euros ($106,000).

“We feel a collective punishment against Dortmund fans and its ultra scene is counterproductive and ineffective,” said Dortmund, Germany’s second biggest club with about 145,000 members.

The club had agreed on Monday to close the Westfalenstadion’s south stand despite misgivings that innocent fans were also affected.

In Friday’s statement, the club said it was aware of its social responsibility and that it remains engaged in favor of integration and against violence and discrimination.

“We assure all those who were injured, insulted and disappointed on February 4 that we will continue to do all we can to punish the culprits and prevent a repeat of such incidents,” Dortmund said.

The club welcomed the German soccer federation’s nationwide stadium ban issued against 88 Dortmund supporters found armed with fighting gear and flares in Darmstadt last Saturday.

“The BVB (Dortmund) made the case for rigorous punishment,” the club said.

UCL: Mitroglou (!?!) leads Benfica to edge over dominant BVB

Benfica's Kostas Mitroglou celebrates with teammates scoring the opening goal during the Champions League round of 16, first leg, soccer match between Benfica and Borussia Dortmund at the Luz stadium in Lisbon, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)
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  • Mitroglou opens scoring
  • Aubameyang misses PK
  • Benfica one shot on target

Kostas Mitroglou did what Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang couldn’t, and that has Benfica ahead after one leg of its UEFA Champions League tie with Borussia Dortmund.

Benfica leads 1-0 after Tuesday’s first leg despite being the inferior team for most of the day. The second leg is March 8 in Germany.

USMNT phenom Christian Pulisic subbed into the match in the 82nd minute for BVB, picking up a yellow card two minutes later.

Mitroglou’s second half goal came after Aubameyang missed a pair of first-half chances and before the Gabonese striker had a PK saved at the Estadio da Luz on Tuesday.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

The first half belonged to Dortmund, as the visitors completed 300 passes and held 64 percent of the ball.

But BVB failed to put one of its four shot attempts on target. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang blazed one over the goal before sliding short of a cross-six tap-in attempt.

Mitroglou scored his goal off a corner, as Luisao moved the ball to the former Fulham striker, who bested the keeper with a touch and shot.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

LIVE: UCL Round of 16 – PSG vs. Barcelona; Benfica vs. Dortmund

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 21:  Neymar of Barcelona takes on Marco Verratti of PSG during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final second leg match between FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain at Camp Nou on April 21, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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It’s back!

The UEFA Champions League knockout rounds with some mouth-watering ties kicking off the Round of 16 first legs.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Reigning French champions Paris Saint-Germain host Spanish giants FC Barcelona at the Parc des Princes, with PSG boss Unai Emery under extreme pressure and a defeat for Barca’s Luis Enrique may well see the pressure crank up on him in Catalonia.

PSG are without Thiago Motta and Thiago Silva through suspension and injury respectively, while Barca have Arda Turan, Javier Mascherano and Aleix Vidal all out.

In the other UCL Round of 16 first leg on Tuesday (the eight ties are spread across four days in the next two weeks) Borussia Dortmund head to Portuguese outfit Benfica with all eyes on U.S. national team playmaker Christian Pulisic, especially with Mario Gotze out injured.

Dortmund are struggling to impact the Bundesliga title race, slipping to another defeat at the weekend (this time against minnows Darmstadt) to leave them 15 points off leaders Bayern Munich and in fourth place. Still, they didn’t lose a game in group play and won their UCL group ahead of reigning European champs Real Madrid so they’ve been doing pretty well in Europe.

Benfica managed to keep coveted defenders Nelson Semedo and Victor Lindelof over the winter transfer window and this is a big moment for Mexican international Raul Jimenez to show what he can do.

Click on the link above to follow live commentary on both games, while we will have reaction and analysis on all of the UCL knockout games

UCL Tuesday preview: PSG hosts MSN, Pulisic to Portugal

MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 07:  Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund (L) and Karim Benzema of Real Madrid (R) battle for possession during the UEFA Champions League Group F match between Real Madrid CF and Borussia Dortmund at the Bernabeu on December 7, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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The UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 takes its first steps on Tuesday in Paris and Lisbon, with two big name group winners on the road.

Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund are in Portugal to face Benfica at the Estadio da Luz, which is rarely kind to visitors, while the power trio of Messi, Suarez, and Neymar will hit the Parc des Princes to dance with Paris Saint-Germain.

[ RECAP: Bournemouth 0-2 Man City ]

The second legs will both be held on Wednesday, March 8.

Benfica vs. Borussia Dortmund

How they got here: Benfica finished second to Napoli in Group B, and Dortmund edged Real Madrid for the Group F crown.

History: Last met in 1963, when BVB won over two legs in the European Cup. Benfica won the home leg 2-1, so history is on their side (This is a joke).

The plot: Thomas Tuchel’s side has disappointed in the Bundesliga, but BVB has shone brightly in the UCL. He’ll be favored to lead the club past Benfica, though the Águias are anything but a pushover.

The subplot: Globally? Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s chances of sticking around BVB will improve if he can accomplish his UCL goals. Locally? USMNT hotshot Christian Pulisic gets his latest chance to shine on the global stage. The 18-year-old has two assists in six UCL matches this season.


BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 21: Neymar of Barcelona takes on Marco Verratti of PSG during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final second leg match between FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain at Camp Nou on April 21, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Barcelona

How they got here: PSG finishes second in Group A, behind Arsenal, while Barcelona won a tricky Group C with Manchester City, Borussia Monchengladbach, and Celtic.

History: These giants have met up in two recent editions of the UEFA Champions League. Barcelona eliminated PSG on road goals in 2012-13, while Barcelona won three of four when the sides met in the group stage and knockout rounds of the 2014-15 tournament.

The plot: Unai Emery has a major test in old La Liga nemesis Barcelona. The PSG manager was hired by Sevilla for his tournament successes in the Europa League, but the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has the French giants in Ligue 1’s second place and that puts a bit more pressure on getting past Barcelona.

Speaking of Barca, the Spanish champions have played two more matches but are still a point back of Real Madrid for the La Liga lead. Pressure on both sides of this tie.

The subplot: Uruguay superstars Edinson Cavani (PSG) and Luis Suarez (Barca) pose problems for defenses, and only one can head to the quarterfinals.