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Snow denies Hannover’s Haraguchi open goal in 3-2 loss

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A wild 3-2 game in the driving snow saw Bayer Leverkusen pick up a critical three points in the battle for a Champions League place, but it didn’t come without some luck.

Well, a lot of luck.

Thanks to the significant snowfall, Hannover was denied a wide-open goal in the 33rd minute. Goalkeeper Michael Esser pumped the ball forward, straight to Japan international Genki Haraguchi streaking behind his defender. Bayer goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky came off his line to challenge, but Haraguchi rounded him easily and punched the ball towards the open net.

Then a funny thing happened. The significant snow buildup slowed the ball as it raced toward the net, stopping it inches before crossing the goal line. Bayer defender Jonathan Tah was able to collect the stopped ball and clear it off the line, preventing Hannover from breaking into the scoreline.

Snow denies Hannover 96 goal | 2019 Bundesliga Highlights (VIDEO)

Haraguchi looks certain to score but the snow literally stopped Hannover 96’s ball from going in the empty net.

The weather continued to affect the game even after that. It snowed so much that the game had to be stopped eight minutes later so the grounds crew could clear enough to see the lines.

While Hannover would eventually draw back level at 2-2, the visitors won it late as Kai Haverts would deliver Bayer all three points. That drew them within four of Borussia Monchengladbach in the race for the final Champions League place, while Hannover remains in a relegation position in 17th, five back of 16th-placed Stuttgart.

Dortmund holds off Leverkusen to take three-point Bundesliga lead

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Borussia Dortmund restored its three-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga table, although it wasn’t easy at times as they held firm amid a worrisome finish to earn a 3-2 victory over Bayer Leverkusen at Westfalenstadion. English youngster Jadon Sancho was the star, assisting the opener and scoring Dortmund’s second in a fabulous attacking display.

Dortmund scored its three goals on just four shots on target as Leverkusen held a whopping 67% possession throughout the match. It took a half-hour for the home side to open the scoring, but once they did, it sparked a three-goal flurry in 10 minutes.

It started when 19-year-old French defender Dan-Axel Zagadou scored his first goal of the season on 30 minutes, bundling the ball over the line on the doorstep after the 18-year-old Sancho got his head to a corner delivery and touched it across the face of goal. The teenage connection together adds up to just 37 years of age, a bright burst of youth in the Dortmund squad.

Leverkusen pulled back level just seven minutes later, as Kevin Volland found the near post with a low shot from distance that Roman Burki will want back, somehow unable to reach the ball with a dive despite the distance and relative lack of pace on the effort.

Sancho would put Dortmund right back into the lead, however, leg-whipping a fabulous volley inside the far post. It came off a delivery from Abdou Diallo from the left flank that Dortmund repeatedly opened up.

The second saw Leverkusen look to find a second equalizer while Dortmund sat back and picked its spots. Mario Gotze pounced on a deflected clear at the top of the box, and his 60th minute rifle saw the home side go 3-1 up. That was a critical goal, because the visitors would not go away.

Jonathan Tah made a game of it with 15 minutes remaining, delivering a powerful bullet header at the end of a free-kick to pull Leverkusen back within one. That was the final goal of the match, and the final chance as well as the Dortmund defense locked things up. While the visitors scored twice, the Dortmund back line still performed well overall, particularly in one-on-one situations. Leverkusen completed just eight of its 25 attempted take-ons, with particular difficulty on its right flank against Diallo and Raphiel Guerrero, who together completed seven tackles on seven attempts.

American attacker Christian Pulisic did not even make the Dortmund bench, injured and missing the last two matches now as he nears the end of his time in Germany.

Youngsters Havertz, Brandt leading Leverkusen revival

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BERLIN (AP) Two young German national team players are leading Bayer Leverkusen’s revival under new coach Peter Bosz.

Kai Havertz, still only 19, has made himself an indispensable part of the squad and is getting better with each game, while 22-year-old Julian Brandt produced a man-of-the-match performance against Mainz on Friday.

[ MORE: Bundesliga schedule  ] 

Brandt, who had already been entrusted with the No. 10 jersey by Germany coach Joachim Loew following Mesut Ozil’s premature retirement, showed he is determined to keep it after scoring two goals and setting up two more in Leverkusen’s 5-1 win.

“If a No. 10 is needed and the coach thinks we don’t have any in the squad, then I think I have the quality for it,” Brandt said.

Havertz, his midfield partner and the only player to have started every league game for Leverkusen this season, scored his eighth goal of the season against Mainz and is displaying a maturity well beyond his years.

Havertz has already scored more goals than in the previous two seasons since he first broke into the senior team.

The ambidextrous midfielder can play all across midfield, winning tackles in defense, switching play and launching attacks with his quick eye for movement, coupled with his anticipation and then precision when delivering the final pass. Havertz has been involved in 17 goals in his 27 games in all competitions this season.

Havertz’s importance to Leverkusen was underlined by the club’s concern over the hip injury he picked up in the 3-1 win over Bayern Munich on Feb. 2. He missed the German Cup loss to second-division club Heidenheim three days later, but the injury was not as serious an initially feared and he returned to start in Mainz to help Leverkusen claim its third straight win.

Bosz, a former Borussia Dortmund coach, took over from Heiko Herrlich in time for the second half of the season. He appears to have stabilized the team after an inconsistent first half. The Dutch coach has given free rein to both Brandt and Havertz in the center and the decision has paid off with marked improvement since the league resumed.

Brandt had been playing on the wing under Herrlich.

“When you play on the wing you’re tied to the position and don’t have as much room,” Brandt said. “So now I can run around with freedom. I feel very comfortable in the position.”

Bosz’s reasoning for Brandt’s position switch is simple.

“He is a very good player and you have to give good players the ball. He was outstanding today and always there at the right time,” Bosz said after the win in Mainz, where Brandt scored twice in a game for the first time.

Back on track in the Bundesliga – Leverkusen is up to sixth, good enough for Europa League qualification, five points behind Leipzig in the last place for Champions League qualification – Bosz’s team next travels to Russia to face Krasnodar in the Europa League.

Bosz previously led Ajax to the Europa League final in 2017.

“We don’t want to go at it like in the German Cup,” Brandt said, referring to the slip-up in Heidenheim. “We’ve learned from that.”

More AP German soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/Bundesliga and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Bundesliga wrap: BVB held, Gladbach goes ahead of Bayern (video)

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Bayern Munich lost on a day leaders Borussia Dortmund dropped points, the combustible Bundesliga season continuing its way on Saturday in Germany.

[ MORE: USMNT 2-0 Costa Rica | Player ratings ]


Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 Bayern Munich

Leon Goretzka’s goal before halftime, his fourth in three matches, was not the start of something good. Leon Bailey scored his first goal in five months to kickstart a three-goal second half that sent Bayern to its third away loss of the season. Kevin Volland and Lucas Alario scored the other Bayer goals.

The Bailey goal was magnificent.

Schalke 0-2 Borussia Monchengladbach

Alexander Nübel’s 59th minute red card put the hosts under the sword, but Christoph Kramer’s winner didn’t arrive until the 85th minute. Gladbach added another in stoppage time through Florian Neuhaus, and leaps over Bayern on goal differential for second on the table.

Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Borussia Dortmund

Marco Reus’ early goal was his 13th of the season, putting the leaders ahead in the 22nd minute, but fellow Golden Boot chaser Luka Jovic scored his 14th about a quarter-hour later to earn a point for still Top Four-chasing Eintracht.

Top Goal Scorers
Pos Name Total
1 L. Jovic 14
2 M. Reus 13
3 R. Lewandowski 12
3 P. Alcácer 12
5 S. Haller 11
5 T. Werner 11

Elsewhere

Hannover 96 0-3 RB Leipzig — Friday
Hoffenheim 1-1 Fortuna Dusseldorf
Nurnberg 1-1 Werder Bremen
Hertha Berlin 0-1 Wolfsburg
Augsburg v. Mainz — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Stuttgart v. Freiburg —  Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Borussia Dortmund 20 15 4 1 51 20 31 9-1-0 6-3-1 49
 Mönchengladbach 20 13 3 4 41 18 23 9-0-0 4-3-4 42
 Bayern Munich 20 13 3 4 44 23 21 5-3-1 8-0-3 42
 RB Leipzig 20 11 4 5 38 18 20 7-2-1 4-2-4 37
 Eintracht Frankfurt 20 9 5 6 40 27 13 5-2-3 4-3-3 32
 VfL Wolfsburg 20 9 4 7 29 27 2 3-3-4 6-1-3 31
 Bayer Leverkusen 20 9 3 8 32 31 1 5-1-4 4-2-4 30
 1899 Hoffenheim 20 7 8 5 38 29 9 3-5-3 4-3-2 29
 Hertha BSC Berlin 20 7 7 6 31 31 0 4-4-2 3-3-4 28
 Werder Bremen 20 7 6 7 32 32 0 3-4-3 4-2-4 27
 FSV Mainz 05 19 7 6 6 22 25 -3 4-4-2 3-2-4 27
 FC Schalke 04 20 6 4 10 24 29 -5 4-0-6 2-4-4 22
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 20 6 4 10 22 39 -17 4-0-6 2-4-4 22
 SC Freiburg 19 5 6 8 24 32 -8 3-4-3 2-2-5 21
 FC Augsburg 19 3 6 10 26 33 -7 1-4-4 2-2-6 15
 VfB Stuttgart 19 4 2 13 15 42 -27 3-1-5 1-1-8 14
 1. FC Nürnberg 20 2 6 12 17 44 -27 2-4-5 0-2-7 12
 Hannover 96 20 2 5 13 18 44 -26 2-1-7 0-4-6 11

Bundesliga wrap: BVB goes atop the table with wild comeback

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It’s nearly October, and Bayern Munich is not atop the Bundesliga.

[ MORE: What did we learn from PL Saturday? ]

Have you wiped your eyeglasses, phone, or computer screen? Cause that’s a true statement.

Bayer Leverkusen 2-4 Borussia Dortmund

For about an hour, Bayer Leverkusen’s turn in form looked to have firm roots in the soil. Bidding for a third-straight win following an 0-4 start, the hosts got goals from Mitchell Weiser and Jonathan Tah to stun visitors intent on claiming the top of the table.

Jacob Bruun Larsen and Marco Reus scored five minutes apart to level the score in the 69th minute, and Paco Alcacer scored twice in the final nine minutes as Borussia Dortmund won at BayArena.

USMNT star Christian Pulisic missed a lot of the fun, subbing off shortly after BVB pulled to within one via Brunn Larsen.

Hoffenheim 1-2 RB Leipzig

Six teams are now within three points of first place after Yussuf Poulsen scored his fifth and sixth goals in all competitions, and RBL only conceded a stoppage time penalty from Andrej Kramaric in moving sixth. The Danish 24-year-old has three of his goals in Bundesliga play.

Schalke 1-0 Mainz

Alessandro Schopf’s 11th minute goal was one of just two shots on target for Schalke, but the perennial contenders don’t care how their first league win arrived, just that it’s here.

Elsewhere
Hertha Berlin 2-0 Bayern Munich — Friday
Stuttgart 2-1 Werder Bremen
Wolfsburg 2-2 Borussia Monchengladbach
Nurnberg 3-0 Fortuna Dusseldorf
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Hannover — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Augsburg vs. Freiburg — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Borussia Dortmund 6 4 2 0 19 5 14 3-0-0 1-2-0 14
 Bayern Munich 6 4 1 1 12 5 7 2-1-0 2-0-1 13
 Hertha BSC Berlin 6 4 1 1 12 7 5 3-0-0 1-1-1 13
 Mönchengladbach 6 3 2 1 12 9 3 3-0-0 0-2-1 11
 Werder Bremen 6 3 2 1 11 8 3 1-2-0 2-0-1 11
 RB Leipzig 6 3 2 1 10 9 1 2-1-0 1-1-1 11
 VfL Wolfsburg 6 2 3 1 10 9 1 1-2-1 1-1-0 9
 FSV Mainz 05 6 2 2 2 4 4 0 2-1-0 0-1-2 8
 1. FC Nürnberg 6 2 2 2 7 10 -3 2-1-0 0-1-2 8
 1899 Hoffenheim 6 2 1 3 10 10 0 1-1-1 1-0-2 7
 SC Freiburg 5 2 1 2 8 9 -1 1-1-1 1-0-1 7
 Bayer Leverkusen 6 2 0 4 7 13 -6 1-0-2 1-0-2 6
 FC Augsburg 5 1 2 2 7 8 -1 0-1-1 1-1-1 5
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 6 1 2 3 5 9 -4 1-0-2 0-2-1 5
 VfB Stuttgart 6 1 2 3 5 10 -5 1-1-1 0-1-2 5
 Eintracht Frankfurt 5 1 1 3 6 9 -3 0-1-1 1-0-2 4
 FC Schalke 04 6 1 0 5 3 9 -6 1-0-2 0-0-3 3
 Hannover 96 5 0 2 3 4 9 -5 0-1-1 0-1-2 2