Second-placed RB Leipzig failed to take advantage of Bayern’s slip yesterday, drawing 1-1 at Schalke, who were coming off the back of European exit. Earlier, Freiburg scored late on to beat Leverkusen 2-1.Schalke 1-1 RB Leipzig
(Huntelaar 46′ – Werner 14′)
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s second-half equalizer earned Schalke a share of the spoils against second-placed RB Leipzig. The Dutchman scored less than a minute after the restart to net a point which gives the Royal Blues a bit of breathing space from the relegation fight.
But RB Leipzig will be disappointed that they didn’t convert a comprehensive first-half performance into three points. With Bayern Munich slipping at home to Mainz, the chasers had a chance to cut the gap to six points with four games left. The afternoon started brightly with the opener coming inside the first quarter of an hour.
Timo Werner punished a basic defensive mistake from Benedikt Höwedes, who was too close to the striker, and the youngster nodded in his 17th goal of a remarkable campaign.
Leipzig asserted their dominance as they know how: high-pressing and quick transitions. Emil Forsberg was one-on-one with Ralf Fährmann on 19 minutes but scuffed his finish wide of the target. The Swede and Werner combined on 32 minutes, but the referee flagged for offside as Leipzig’s top scorer steamed through on goal.
But Hasenhüttl’s side were caught napping at the start of the second period. Schalke lumped the ball into the box from the right-side and Huntelaar was presented with a free header to bring the Royal Blues back on level terms.
Schalke struggled to push on for a second, but threatened at set pieces with Coke heading off target twice in a minute. It ended in a draw in Gelsenkirchen with Markus Weinzierl’s side in 11th and Leipzig eight points off champions Bayern.
Freiburg 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen
(Petersen 11′, Stenzel 88′ – Volland 60′ pen)
Borussia Dortmund loanee Pascal Stenzel came off the bench to score the winner and send Freiburg back into the top six. The 21-year-old was on the field for the best part of 150 seconds before he combined with Havard Nielsen and then proceeded to finish off from a tight angle.
After a heavy defeat in Leipzig last week, Christian Streich’s side needed to make home advantage count in the hunt for European qualification. Freiburg’s energetic start appeared to catch Leverkusen still in the traps. Nils Petersen held his run on the attack in the 11th minute, then battered the ball with venom into the top corner leaving Bernd Leno helpless.
In the starting eleven for the 12th time this season, 17-year-old Kai Havertz was the source of inspiration for the visitors. The teenager’s header threatened the Freiburg goal on the half hour mark before Alexander Schwolow prevented him from sliding the ball under the keeper and into the net. Havertz aside, Leverkusen were lacking speed and zip in attack.
Although Tayfun Korkut rang no changes at the break, his side improved and created the lion’s share of the chances. Just on the hour mark, Alexander Igjnovski jumped unnecessarily into a challenge and fouled Kevin Volland in the box. The Leverkusen striker converted the penalty – his sixth of the season.
Streich’s side gained supremacy soon after with Florian Niederlechner keen to add to his nine-goal haul for this season. Less than a minute after Caglar Soyuncu came close from distance, the Freiburg striker failed to convert after Janik Haberer’s low-driven cross had removed Leno from proceedings.
Two of Freiburg’s substitutions, Nielsen and Stenzel, completed the damage on Leverkusen with two minutes to go. The Werkself are four points above the drop zone and face Schalke, Ingolstadt, Cologne and Hertha before the end of the campaign.