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Bundesliga: Werder Bremen revives hopes of avoiding relegation

FOOTBALL By Associated Press | May 30th 2020
Werder Bremen's Yuya Osako (right) in action against Schalke's Juan Miranda. [AFP]

Werder Bremen revived its hopes of avoiding relegation on Saturday with a 1-0 win over slumping Schalke, while Hertha Berlin continued its strong form since the Bundesliga restart with another victory.

Werder midfielder Leonardo Bittencourt hit a curling long-range shot into the top corner for the only goal of the game, though Schalke complained of a foul in the build-up.

Werder stays 17th and in the relegation places, but moves within three points of safety. The team has only spent one season outside the top division since the Bundesliga was founded in 1963. Schalke drops to 10th and hasn’t won a league game since January.

Hertha beat Augsburg 2-0 to make it 10 points from four games since the Bundesliga resumed in empty stadiums this month. That run has lifted the Berlin club out of the relegation battle and within four points of the Europa League places. Wolfsburg stays sixth, in a Europa League spot, despite a 2-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt and is now level on points with seventh-placed Hoffenheim, which beat Mainz 1-0.

Bayern Munich hosted 16th-placed Fortuna Düsseldorf later yesterday and could go 10 points clear in its hunt for an eighth consecutive German title.

On Friday night, Kai Havertz scored his fifth goal since the Bundesliga restart to lift Bayer Leverkusen to a 1-0 win over Freiburg and back into the thick of the Champions League qualifying fight.

The 20-year-old Havertz stretched to prod in Leon Bailey’s pass in the 54th minute after Leverkusen spent much of the game fruitlessly passing around the Freiburg defense. That made him the first player ever to score 35 career Bundesliga goals before his 21st birthday.

Havertz’s teammates hurried over to celebrate with hugs, not the elbow bumps the league prefers for reasons of social distancing.

Leverkusen moved up two places to third with the win, bouncing back from losing to Wolfsburg 4-1 on Tuesday. Leipzig dropped to fourth, with Borussia Mönchengladbach down to fifth.

Freiburg was eighth and hasn’t won any of its four games since the league restarted.

Freiburg could have snatched the lead in the 43rd after being on the defensive for most of the first half. Lucas Höler reacted quickly to pick up a long pass and run in behind Leverkusen’s high defensive line but dragged his shot wide of the post when one-on-one with goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky.

Leverkusen’s Julian Baumgartlinger headed the ball into the net in the 63rd but it was ruled out for pushing.

Hradecky made a good save late on to deny Freiburg’s Nils Petersen.

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