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Bundesliga roundup: Bayern rolls, Hertha continues stumble, Wolfsburg beat again

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While the Bundesliga title is wrapped up, the race for a Champions League place is heating up. A few teams currently in the top four are floundering to the finish line, while others are heating up the chase. Here’s all the results from Saturday’s play in Germany.

Bayern Munich 3-0 Schalke

Bayern Munich won for the fifth straight time in Bundesliga play as they dominated Schalke 3-0 behind a second-half brace from Robert Lewandowski and a cherry on top from Arturo Vidal. After a scoreless opening 45 minutes, Lewandowski opened the scoring in the 54th minute after a header from Vidal landed in his lap, and the Polish striker completed the turn-and-shoot by tucking the ball inside the far post. The goal ended a run of six matches without a goal for Lewandowski, and he added another 11 minutes later to give him 26 this Bundesliga season.

Hoffenheim 2-1 Hertha BSC

Things are getting hairy for John Brooks and Hertha after they suffered a 2-1 loss to Hoffenheim at Rhein-Neckar Arena, giving them just one point over their last three matches. Niklas Stark scored for the visitors in the 26th minute, but they conceded just seven minutes later to level the score, and Hoffenheim bagged the winner via Mark Uth with five minutes to go. That drops Hertha from third to fourth in the table, with just a four-point cushion between them and Borussia Monchengladbach in fifth. USMNT’er Brooks played the full 90 minutes, his first game back after missing the last two with a knee injury. Prior to the injury, Brooks had played the full 90 in 16 straight league matches. The win for Hoffenheim, meanwhile, is massive, pulling them away from the relegation zone, especially important consindering Werder Bremen also won.

Werder Bremen 3-2 Wolfsburg

After lighting Europe on fire last season, Wolfsburg’s 2015/16 campaign has been nothing short of disappointing, as they fail to gain ground on Schalke with a road loss to Werder Bremen thanks to an 83rd minute score by Sambou Yatabare. That makes five winless in a row for Wolfsburg in Bundesliga play, with just two points in that span. They sit in eighth place in the league table, six back of Schalke and Mainz. The win for Werder Bremen puts them in the final relegation space, four points above Eintracht Frankfurt and just two behind Stuttgart.

Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 Eintracht Frankfurt

A trio of goals in the final 20 minutes saw Bayer cruise past relegation threatened Eintracht. With his team out-passing Frankfurt 323-119, Kevin Kampl put Bayer ahead in the 70th minute. The floodgates opened from there, with Julian Brandt and Karim Bellarabi putting the final touches on the scoreline. The win moves Bayer ahead of Hertha into third place with 51 points.

Augsburg 1-0 Stuttgart

A 36th-minute strike by Alfred Finnbogason was enough to propel FC Augsburg past Stuttgart at SGL Arena. The two sides are now level on points, with both just two points above the relegation zone.

Darmstadt 2-0 Ingolstadt

After a scoreless first half between the two promoted sides, Konstantin Rausch put Darmstadt ahead in the 51st minute and Sandro Wagner finished it off with five minutes to go as Darmstadt moved into 10th place, four points behind their opponents in ninth.

PST Extra: What’s next for Mourinho, Manchester United?

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Manchester United has fired manager Jose Mourinho, a move which cannot come as much of a surprise as the Red Devils sit almost 20 points back of the Premier League lead.

Both United and its former manager need to stabilize, but what does that mean?

[ MORE: Wednesday’s League Cup preview ]

ProSoccerTalk lead writer and editor Joe Prince-Wright has his take on where United may turn and whether Mourinho will latch on quickly with a club like Inter Milan or Real Madrid.

This stop will go down as the only one in which Mourinho did not lead his club to a league title, following successful stints at Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, and Real Madrid. Sure he’ll get another look, but when?

League Cup preview: North London Derby; Chelsea v. Cherries

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Three of the four clubs active in Wednesday’s League Cup quarterfinals are from London, vying for semifinal spots next to Tuesday victors Manchester City and Burton Albion (!?!).

Things have gone in opposite directions for rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur since the Gunners humbled Spurs 4-2 at the Emirates Stadium on Dec. 2.

[ RECAP: Leicester 1-1 (1-3 PKs) Man City]

Spurs have only dropped points once, a dramatic draw with Barcelona, while Arsenal has failed to continue its form and is coming off a 3-2 loss to relegation-threatened Southampton.

But North London Derbies have a way of framing a season, and reasserting control with a League Cup quarterfinal win at the Emirates would sure be nice for Unai Emery‘s men.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll begin another 20-plus match unbeaten streak. From Arsenal.com:

“Sunday for us is a big reality check in our way,” Emery said. “We need to improve and also we need to continue doing our way in our process. It’s not a good result but this reality gives us more motivation to continue to work hard, finding a new thing to work on each day, and also it makes us demand a lot from ourselves in the way we work on this way.”

The other match sees Chelsea entertaining Bournemouth, and the two sides split results in their last two meetings at Stamford Bridge.

The Cherries lost to Chelsea in last season’s League Cup, but topped the Blues 3-0 in the Premier League.

Meanwhile Chelsea has reportedly confirmed their interest in Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson, so subplots? Yeah, we got ’em.

Eddie Howe‘s not having it. From The Bournemouth Echo:

“Callum getting linked with other clubs, I think in some respects I would almost want that with every player. It means they are performing at their highest level and doing very well in the league they are in, so I have no problem with it.

“From my perspective, Callum’s future is here. He is a massive part of what we are doing and I just want to see him continue to score goals for us.”

The “from my perspective” is a thing here, though, as the Cherries could get a fantastic offer from Chelsea or another big club for the non-Cup tied striker.

Burton Albion making League Cup semi “absolutely staggering”

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Burton Albion has never finished higher than 20th in the Championship, so getting to the League Cup semifinals followed a 1-0 defeat of Middlesbrough is pretty darn sweet to manager Nigel Clough and his men.

The Brewers were relegated to League One last season, finishing 23rd in the 24-team Championship.

[ MORE: Leicester 1-1 (1-3 pens) Man City]

Now, manager Nigel Clough has the club within a win of the League Cup Final. It’s their best major cup performance in a 68-year history.

From BurtonAlbionFC.co.uk:

“The scale of the achievement is absolutely staggering – for Burton Albion to get to the semi-final of a major cup competition. It’s very difficult to describe the feeling at this point.”

Sure the luck of the draw is involved — Burton has only drawn one Premier League team, and it was Burnley — but winning five cup matches is winning five cup matches.

Clough, the son of legendary manager Brian Clough, also sung the praises of Southampton loanee Jake Hesketh. The 22-year-old won the match with the game’s loan goal.

“We got the goal through Jake Hesketh. The most impressive thing was to win the tackle on the edge of the box and he was one of the few players tonight not to hit his shot over the bar, We bang on in training about hitting the bottom corners and he did.”

Whether or not Burton can hang with Premier League opposition in the final, this is a pretty monumental moment for the Brewers. Sitting 15th in league play, it will likely be the most memorable moment of the season.

River Plate loses on penalties to Al Ain at Club World Cup

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AL AIN CITY, United Arab Emirates (AP) South American champion River Plate was upset by Al Ain FC in the Club World Cup on Tuesday, losing in a penalty shootout after the semifinal finished 2-2 following extra time.

Al Ain’s players converted all five penalty kicks, before goalkeeper Khalid Eisa saved Enzo Perez’s fifth shot for River to seal a 5-4 victory in the shootout.

[ MORE: Leicester 1-1 (1-3 pens) Man City ]

River endured the humbling loss to the team from United Arab Emirates less than two weeks after thrilling its fans with a memorable win over fierce Argentine rival Boca Juniors in the final of the Copa Libertadores.

Real Madrid plays Kashima Antlers on Wednesday in the other semifinal.

Marcus Berg put Al Ain ahead in the third minute before Santos Borre scored twice to give River the lead in the 16th.

Brazilian forward Caio pulled Al Ain level at 2-2 in the 51st.

Gonzalo Martinez had an opportunity to put River back in front from the penalty spot after Mohamed Ahmad fouled Milton Casco in the area. But Martinez hit the 68th-minute spot kick against the crossbar.

The final is on Saturday.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports