Leipzig Brush Past Hertha Berlin to Close on Bayern

Berlin, Feb 21 (AFP/APP): RB Leipzig swept past Hertha Berlin with a 3-0 away win on Sunday to cut Bayern Munich’s lead at the top of the Bundesliga table to just two points.

Leipzig capitalised on Bayern’s 2-1 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt 24 hours earlier. A long-range goal by captain Marcel Sabitzer gave second-placed Leipzig a first-half lead in Berlin. A superb second-half strike by defender Nordi Mukiele and a header from centre-back Willi Orban sealed the victory.

“It was a very important three-pointer,” Sabitzer told Sky. “It’s a two-horse race now, but we can’t just talk about it — we have to stay in it, be focused and then at the end, it could be enough.”

Leipzig bounced back from their midweek defeat by Liverpool in the Champions League with a clinical display. Sabitzer struck at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium when his shot from 30 yards out crashed in off the crossbar on 28 minutes. After US midfielder Tyler Adams robbed Matteo Guendouzi of possession in Hertha’s penalty area, Mukiele smashed home the second goal on 71 minutes. Orban headed home Sabitzer’s cross six minutes from time to seal Leipzig’s fourth straight league win.

In contrast, Hertha are winless in their last eight league games. They are 15th in the table, but only goal difference keeps Hertha out of the relegation play-off place as they are level on 18 points with Arminia Bielefeld.

Leverkusen need late equaliser

Earlier, hosts Augsburg were denied a first win over Bayer Leverkusen at the 20th attempt by a last-gasp equaliser from Burkina Faso defender Edmond Tapsoba as the visitors snatched a 1-1 draw. Augsburg were 1-0 up deep into added time when Leverkusen defender Tapsoba was left unmarked to convert a cross seconds before the whistle. Leverkusen needed the late equaliser because their back-up goalkeeper Niklas Lomb had gifted Augsburg an early freak goal.

Five minutes into his first league start this season, Lomb completely mistimed his clearance kick. The ball rolled to Augsburg striker Florian Niederlechner, who tapped the ball into the empty net.

“The fact that I messed up like that really annoys me,” Lomb told broadcaster DAZN. “The lads told me afterwards that it can happen, that we are a team.” “They wanted to help me and then they did it with the equaliser,” he added.

Lomb’s early mistake rattled Leverkusen who struggled to impose themselves until Tapsoba’s late strike. With Augsburg gaining in confidence, Niederlechner thought he had won a penalty just after the break following a tap on his ankle from Leverkusen’s ex-Manchester United defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah. However, VAR spotted Augsburg winger Ruben Vargas offside in the build up and the spot-kick was reversed.

With time running out, Leverkusen levelled just before the final whistle when former Leicester City winger Demarai Gray whipped in a corner which Tapsoba drilled home. After losing six of their nine league games since the start of the year, the result leaves Augsburg in 13th place. Leverkusen remain fifth, five points behind third-placed Wolfsburg and fourth-placed Frankfurt in the race for the Champions League.

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