Germany

Leipzig's scorer Willi Orban, center, and his teammates celebrate their side's 2nd goal during the German Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and Hertha BSC Berlin in Leipzig, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
AP Photo/Michael Sohn

Leipzig beats ‘Gladbach 2-1, cuts Bayern’s Bundesliga lead

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BERLIN (AP) Leipzig held on for a 2-1 win at Borussia Moenchengladbach to cut Bayern Munich’s lead in the Bundesliga to five points on Sunday.

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Emil Forsberg scored one and set up another for the promoted side to end its two-game losing streak and stay on course for Champions League qualification with its 14th win of the season.

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`Gladbach `keeper Yann Sommer pulled off a brilliant fingertip save to deny Marcel Sabitzer early on, but he was powerless to stop Forsberg from breaking the deadlock after half an hour played.

Sabitzer and Timo Werner played their way through the static `Gladbach defense and Werner laid the ball off for the Sweden midfielder to fire inside the bottom left corner.

The home side was given a lifeline when Marvin Compper brought down Lars Stindl and referee Felix Zwayer pointed to the spot, but Peter Gulacsi saved Thorgan Hazard‘s penalty before the break.

More poor defending allowed Werner grab the second 10 minutes after the break, firing inside the far post after Forsberg played him through.

Jannik Vestergaard pulled one back with a powerful header from a corner to set up an exciting finale. However, six minutes of injury time were not enough for an equalizer.

Leipzig had kicked off to a chorus of whistles from the home fans, who then mostly stayed silent till the 19th minute in protest against the visiting side. Huge banners in the north stand said “Traditional club since 1900” – an apparent protest against Leipzig, founded in 2009 when Austrian energy-drink billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz rebranded a fifth-tier team with his company’s livery before financing its steady promotion through the lower leagues.

COLOGNE 1, SCHALKE 1

Cologne stopped Schalke’s progress but the point was enough for the visiting side to overtake `Gladbach on goal difference in 10th.

Alessandro Schoepf got the visitors off to a flying start in the second minute with the help of the left post, and Leon Goretzka hit the post after half an hour with the home side still struggling to get into the game.

But Anthony Modeste equalized before the break with a fine strike inside the far post, and might even have scored again just minutes later, when his hesitation allowed Benedikt Hoewedes get back and clear.

Guido Burgstaller came closest to a winner for Schalke in the second half, his shot just wide of the far post after beating the goalkeeper.

Wolfsburg beats Hoffenheim 2-1 to ease relegation fears

WOLFSBURG, GERMANY - JANUARY 21: Mario Gomez of Wolfsburg runs with the ball during the Bundesliga match between VfL Wolfsburg and Hamburger SV at Volkswagen Arena on January 21, 2017 in Wolfsburg, Germany. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann/Getty Images For MAN)
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BERLIN (AP) Daniel Didavi struck for Wolfsburg to come from behind and beat Hoffenheim 2-1, denying the visitors the chance to go third in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

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Hoffenheim made the better start, putting the home side under pressure from the off.

Kerem Demirbay struck the crossbar with a free kick early on and it seemed just a matter of time before Hoffenheim would score.

Steven Zuber duly broke the deadlock in the 26th minute with a clinical finish inside the far post after Demirbay timed his pass to perfection.

Wolfsburg goalkeeper Diego Benaglio prevented Nadiem Amiri from making it 2-0 before the break. The chance was greeted with whistles from sections of the Wolfsburg support.

But they had reasons to cheer after it, though Oliver Baumann denied Mario Gomez when the Germany striker should have scored.

Maximilian Arnold scored from the resultant corner, unleashing a fierce strike inside the left post after Hoffenheim only half-cleared the ball.

Benaglio denied Demirbay and then Adam Szalai a response before Jakub Blaszczykowski cleared the loose ball off the line.

Just when it seemed Hoffenheim was back in the ascendancy, Didavi struck from close range with a little more than a quarter-hour remaining to move Wolfsburg six points above the relegation zone.

Freiburg was hosting Cologne in the late game.

Dortmund facing partial stadium ban, fine for fan violence

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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BERLIN (AP) The German soccer federation (DFB) is calling for a partial stadium closure and heavy fine for Borussia Dortmund because of trouble caused by some of the club’s fans this season.

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The DFB says it wants the south stand of the Westfalenstadion to remain empty for one Bundesliga game and the club to be fined $106,600 for banners and insults against Leipzig last weekend as well as previous disturbances against Mainz, Hoffenheim and the away game in Leipzig earlier this season.

Dortmund already had a suspended sanction of a partial closure of the south stand following previous misdemeanors.

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The DFB says it cannot impose sanctions for incidents outside stadiums – several Leipzig fans were injured in attacks.

Mustafi still “a believer” in Arsenal’s Premier League odds

Chelsea's Eden Hazard, falls after a tackle by Arsenal's Shkodran Mustafi during the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge stadium in London, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
AP Photo/Frank Augstein
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Arsenal’s 12-point climb to Premier League table leading Chelsea is daunting, but Shkodran Mustafi thinks it possible.

The 24-year-old German defender has seen his side drop back-to-back games including a Top Four six-pointer against the Blues last weekend.

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But Arsenal still has matches against Spurs, Man City, Man United, and Everton in addition to Saturday’s fight with Liverpool.

And, as some say, you gotta believe it to achieve it. From an interview with Sky Sports:

“I think it’s going to be more difficult than it was before but I’m a believer,” he said. “I don’t give up.”

“As long as it’s possible we’re going to fight for it, and in the end we will see and if we’re lucky enough and good enough to go for it or not.”

The lucky line sounds straight from the Wenger playbook.

Arsenal’s take seems improbable, especially if the Premier League side can find a way past Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League to further congest its schedule while Chelsea only has Premier League and FA Cup play left on the docket.

If the Gunners pull it off, I promise a “I’m sorry, Shkrodan, I was wrong” post.

European Cups roundup: Barca into Copa final; Bayern reach semis

BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 07:  Luis Suarez of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Copa del Rey semi-final second leg match between FC Barcelona and Atletico de Madrid at Camp Nou on February 7, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
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A roundup of Tuesday’s action in the Copa del Rey semifinals and DFB-Pokal quarterfinals…

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Barcelona 1-1 (3-2) Atletico Madrid

Barcelona are through to their 39th Copa del Rey final, where they’ll play for their record 29th Spanish Cup triumph, following a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday (3-2 on aggregate). Luis Suarez fired Barca to a 3-1 aggregate lead just before halftime, at which point Luis Enrique’s side was cruising to a smooth, painless progression. Sergi Roberto was sent off in the 57th minute, though, as was Atleti’s Yannick Carrasco in the 69th minute, making the result all the more straightforward, or so we thought.

Atleti won a penalty in the 80th minute, only to see Kevin Gameiro’s effort glance off the crossbar and head for the stands behind the goal. Gameiro tapped home a brilliant ball from Antoine Griezmann three minutes later, though, to bring the visitors to within a goal of sending the tie to extra time. Luis Suarez was booked once in the 87th minute, then shown a straight red card for an elbow to the head of Koke in the 90th minute — which means he’ll be suspended for the final — forcing Barca to see out the game with nine men. That’s what we call making life unnecessarily difficult.

The Blaugrana will go into the May 27 final as massive favorites, as they’ll face the winner of Wednesday’s second semifinal second leg, between Alaves and Celta Vigo, which is currently all square at 0-0.

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Bayern Munich 1-0 Wolfsburg

Douglas Costa scored the game’s only goal, as Carlo Ancelotti opted to field a full-strength side with critical Bundesliga games either side of Tuesday’s Cup quarterfinal. Philipp Lahm made his 501st appearance for the club — he was honored for his 500th, achieved over the weekend, prior to the game — and then it was reported by German newspaper Sport Bild that the 33-year-old will retire at the end of the season. Bayern are through to the semifinals, which puts them two games from (likely) sending the German legend out a double (at least) winner (again).

Hamburg 2-0 Kolk

Hamburg currently sit 16th of 18 teams in the Bundesliga (relegation playoff place), but they’re through to the semifinals of the German Cup after a 2-0 home win over Koln, which was capped off by the seventh goal of the season for U.S. national team striker Bobby Wood. (WATCH HERE) The last time Hamburg lifted a major domestic trophy, the date was June 20, 1987 (Cup).

Full DFB-Pokal scoreboard

Greuther Fuerth 0-2 Borussia Monchengladbach
FCA Walldorf 1-1 (4-5 PKs) Arminia Bielefeld