BERLIN: The closest Bundesliga title race for years ends on the final day of the season on Saturday when Borussia Dortmund or Bayern Munich will be crowned champion.
Dortmund lead by two points and need to beat Mainz at home to be sure of ending Bayern’s 10-year reign, while Bayern will be hoping for a Dortmund slip-up as they visit Cologne at the same time.
Bayern’s goal difference is better than Dortmund’s so a draw won’t be enough for Dortmund if Bayern beat Cologne.
“We have to win once more. That’s all that counts,” Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl said.
It would be Dortmund’s first German league title since Jürgen Klopp led the “black and yellows” to back-to-back triumphs in 2011 and 2012. Bayern have won every season since.
The fact that the Bavarian powerhouse doesn’t have the title already wrapped up means the season will be considered a failure – even if Mainz do Bayern a favor and cause an upset on Saturday.
Bayern’s total of 68 points is the lowest they had at this stage of the season since 2011, when interim coach Andries Jonker led the team to third place after Louis van Gaal was fired.
Bayern also fired their coach this season, when Julian Nagelsmann made way in March because the club felt their targets in the Champions League, German Cup and Bundesliga were in danger. Bayern were subsequently knocked out of the first two under new coach Thomas Tuchel, but he may yet salvage some lost pride if his former team Dortmund fails to beat Mainz – where he started his senior coaching career.
Dortmund’s 70 points are just one more than they managed last season, when they finished 10 behind Bayern. The story of the Bundesliga this season is one of Bayern’s decline, rather than any huge leap made by Dortmund – though the team have developed a new resilience under coach Edin Terzić.
“We’re ready to take the last step together – as a team, as a club, as a city,” Terzić said on Thursday.
Leipzig are assured of third place regardless of their result at home to Schalke, but fourth – the last qualification spot for Europe’s premier competition – is still in contention between Union Berlin and Freiburg.
Both teams are level on points, with Union ahead by four goals’ difference. Union can book their Champions League place with a win at home over Werder Bremen, or by matching Freiburg’s result at Eintracht Frankfurt – provided Freiburg doesn’t score four goals more than Union.
It’s already a remarkable achievement for Union and Freiburg – both clubs of modest resources – to be in this position going into the final round.
EUROPA LEAGUE/EUROPA CONFERENCE LEAGUE
One of Union or Freiburg will finish fifth and qualify for the Europa League.
Sixth-placed Bayer Leverkusen and seventh-placed Wolfsburg hope to join, depending on what happens in the German Cup final on June 3 between Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt.
Because the cup winner gets a European qualification spot, Leverkusen and Wolfsburg will be cheering for Leipzig in the final. If Leipzig successfully defends their title, they will free another Europa League qualification spot (sixth in the Bundesliga), because they have already qualified for the Champions League. If Frankfurt win, then the sixth-placed finisher goes to the Europa Conference League.
Leverkusen visit Bochum on the final day. Wolfsburg are just a point behind Leverkusen and can be confident of taking three more against already-relegated Hertha Berlin. Frankfurt, three points behind Leverkusen, have only a slim chance of finishing sixth.
FIGHTING FOR SURVIVAL
Augsburg, Stuttgart, Bochum and Schalke are all still playing for survival on the final day. The bottom two are relegated and the team that finish above them goes into a two-leg relegation-promotion playoff against the second division’s third-placed finisher to see which play in the Bundesliga next season.
All of the final round’s matches are played at the same time on Saturday.
Dortmund or Bayern? Bundesliga up for grabs on final day
Dortmund or Bayern? Bundesliga up for grabs on final day
- Bayern’s goal difference is better than Dortmund’s so a draw won’t be enough for Dortmund if Bayern beat Cologne
- “We have to win once more. That’s all that counts,” Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl said
BERLIN: The closest Bundesliga title race for years ends on the final day of the season on Saturday when Borussia Dortmund or Bayern Munich will be crowned champion.
Lewandowski, Cancelo lead Barcelona to 3-2 comeback win over Celta with 3 goals in final 10 minutes
- “It was a great fightback,” said Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández
- “I made many mistakes, but you just have to keep focused and play until the end,” Cancelo said
BARCELONA, Spain: Robert Lewandowski scored two late goals before João Cancelo snatched the 89th-minute winner to lead Barcelona to a 3-2 comeback win over Celta Vigo at home in the Spanish league on Saturday.
Rafa Benítez was eying his first big win since returning to coaching in Spain with his team ahead 2-0 before Lewandowski struck in the 81st minute. Cancelo then set up Lewandowski to equalize in the 85th before the Portugal right back completed the turnaround.
“It was a great fightback,” said Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández, who signed a contract extension through 2025 on Friday. “It is true we were disorganized at times and didn’t make the ball flow like in other games, but the team won in faith and courage.”
Barcelona are tied on points with the surprising Girona at the top of the table after their fellow Catalan club routed Mallorca 5-3. Real Madrid are one point behind both before visiting Atletico Madrid on Sunday.
Jorgen Strand Larsen put Celta ahead in the 19th and substitute Anastasios Douvikas made it 2-0 in the 76th while their five-man defense held the defending champions in check — until the final minutes.
Cancelo joined Barcelona on the final day of the transfer window on loan from Manchester City. He has made an immediate impact by giving Barcelona a versatile right back, and it was never more evident than when he joined in a last-gasp push against Celta.
After Lewandowski had given Barcelona hope by scooping a shot over goalkeeper Ivan Villar, Cancelo acted as a midfielder to provide an assist for the Poland striker to make it 2-2. His next move was to make a run through the heart of the defense where he met a lobbed pass by Gavi Páez and guided it home.
Cancelo said he was relieved to have helped his new team after having had what he called a poor performance after turning the ball over several times.
“I made many mistakes, but you just have to keep focused and play until the end,” Cancelo said. “We didn’t play well and Celta did well defending its area. But it is always better to play poorly and win, than to play well and lose.”
It was a bitter loss for Benítez, who took over Celta this summer for his first job in Spain since his short-lived stint with Real Madrid in 2015. Celta have only one win in six games under the coach that led Valencia to league titles back in 2002 and 2004.
“I think we played well for most of the game, but in that final stretch I have the feeling their last two goals were preventable,” Benítez said. “Tiredness could have played a part, but those goals can be stopped if you are well positioned. I hope this helps us grow because for 80 minutes we were superb.”
Barcelona lost midfielder Frenkie de Jong near the end of the first half. Gavi Páez replaced him. Xavi said that De Jong would undergo tests to determine the nature of the injury.
The undefeated Girona are the revelation of the season so far. The modest team from Spain’s northeastern Catalonia region that are partially owned by Manchester City’s Abu Dhabi ownership have won five straight games after drawing their opener.
After beating Granada 4-2 last round, they have now scored nine goals in their past two games.
“(Being at the top of the standings) is anecdotal, we are happy for the victory. Winning five in a row in the first division is not an easy task,” coach Míchel Sánchez said.
“Even more important than the results is the sensation we have, knowing that we are competing well and have a clear idea of how we want to play.”
Mallorca went ahead early through a fourth-minute penalty converted by Vedat Muriqi. But Girona roared back with goals by David López, Artem Dovbyk, Iván Martín, Yangel Herrera and Sávio before substitute Ábdon Prats reduced the deficit for Mallorca with a late brace.
Also, Sevilla drew 0-0 at Osasuna.
Juventus fall to first defeat of season as 3 glaring errors contribute to 4-2 loss at Sassuolo
- It was Juve’s first loss of the fledgling campaign after three wins and a draw
- It was the third straight league match in which Leão scored
MILAN: Juventus fell to their first loss of the season after three glaring errors contributed to a 4-2 defeat at struggling Sassuolo in Serie A on Saturday, including a bizarre late own goal.
Bianconeri goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny first gifted the home side the lead when he failed to make a routine save on a shot from Armand Laurienté in the 13th minute.
Another mistake from Szczęsny gave Sassuolo a 3-2 lead in the 82nd and Juventus then added a comical own goal in injury time.
Szczęsny left his goal to take a free kick near the corner flag, passing the ball across the pitch to Gatti as Juventus tried to launch a final attack in search of an equalizer. However, the defender came under quick pressure and passed the ball back toward the goal — seemingly forgetting that his goalkeeper was not there — and it bobbled into the empty net.
It was Juve’s first loss of the fledgling campaign after three wins and a draw. On Tuesday they play Lecce, which are the only side still undefeated in the Italian league along with Inter Milan.
Sassuolo had only three points from their opening four matches but took the lead when Laurienté’s shot went straight at Szczęsny but the power behind the strike saw the ball bounce off the goalkeeper’s gloves and off the turf before going into the back of the net.
Juventus leveled in the 21st when Federico Chiesa whipped in a cross from the left but, under pressure from United States midfielder Weston McKennie, Matías Nicolás Viña prodded the ball into his own net.
Domenico Berardi restored Sassuolo’s lead shortly before halftime when he swept a finish into the bottom left corner but the home side’s hopes of getting an impressive win appeared to evaporate when Chiesa’s effort was deflected in with 12 minutes remaining.
However, Sassoulo went ahead again four minutes later after Szczęsny palmed Laurienté’s fierce strike straight at Pinamonti, who headed in the rebound for his fourth goal in three matches.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Gatti added the worst howler of the day right at the end.
LEÃO SCORES AGAIN
Rafael Leão appears back to his best and the AC Milan forward helped the Rossoneri bounce back from a disappointing week with a 1-0 win over Hellas Verona in Serie A on Saturday.
Leão scored the only goal of the delayed match in the eighth minute to help his team get back to winning ways. Milan were humiliated 5-1 by Inter Milan in the city derby last weekend before being held 0-0 by Newcastle in their Champions League opener on Tuesday.
It was the third straight league match in which Leão scored. The 24-year-old forward had a mixed campaign last season as he appeared distracted by off-the-field issues with his contract, which he renewed in June.
A mistake by the Verona defense allowed Olivier Giroud to win the ball back in midfield and he sent it through to Leão, who used his impressive pace to surge between two opposition players and slot into the bottom right corner.
The match almost didn’t go ahead, however, as the San Siro pitch was waterlogged following heavy rain and hail in the hour before kickoff. It eased off and the water drained quickly so the match was able to get underway 25 minutes late.
Christian Pulisic went close to doubling Milan’s lead in the 72nd when he raced into the right side of the area and left Verona defender Paweł Dawidowicz scrambling as the US international turned and curled in a shot, which Lorenzo Montipò managed to palm out from under the bar.
Milan moved level on points with league leader Inter, which play at Empoli on Sunday.
Record-setting Kane hits hat-trick as Bayern rout Bochum
- Kane fired in Bayern’s second just 13 minutes in, before scoring a penalty in the second half
- With six goals in five games, the England captain now has more goals in his first five league matches than any other player in Bayern’s history
BERLIN: Harry Kane on Saturday bettered a record first set by legendary German striker Gerd Mueller when he hit a hat-trick in Bayern Munich’s 7-0 rout of Bochum which took the champions back to the top of the Bundesliga.
Kane fired in Bayern’s second just 13 minutes in, before scoring a penalty in the second half. He added a third with two minutes remaining when he tapped in a low cross from Leroy Sane.
With six goals in five games, the England captain now has more goals in his first five league matches than any other player in Bayern’s history, beating the mark of Mueller (1965), Miroslav Klose (2007) and Mario Mandzukic (2012) who all scored five times in their first five games for the club.
“I’m happy to play my part and I hope there will be many more to come. So far so good,” said Kane.
Kane said he would toast the win with a first-ever visit to Munich’s Oktoberfest beer festival later on Saturday.
“When I came here I said I wanted to get to know the culture and the city — what better place than that?“
Bayern have now beaten Bochum 7-0 in three of their past five fixtures.
Bayern manager Thomas Tuchel praised his side’s “very deserved win” saying it was “a fantastic day at the office.”
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Matthijs de Ligt, Leroy Sane and Mathys Tel — again from the bench — also got on the scoresheet.
Thomas Tuchel’s Bayern, who conceded two goals late in Wednesday’s 4-3 home win over Manchester United in the Champions League, kept a clean sheet for just the second time this season from seven matches.
Bochum remain winless.
Borussia Dortmund overcame dogged Wolfsburg at home, winning 1-0 thanks to a late goal from veteran forward Marco Reus.
Dortmund manager Edin Terzic rejigged his midfield as part of six changes after Tuesday’s poor performance in a 2-0 loss away at Paris Saint-Germain, with Reus celebrating victory on his first start of the season while captain Emre Can was pushed to the bench.
Reus continued his habit of being the first to score in a match, with 62 of his 116 Bundesliga goals for Dortmund being the opener.
Reus called the win “a step forward” but admitted “it was OK today, but of course not our benchmark.”
RB Leipzig continued their winning ways this season, a late Timo Werner goal giving them a 1-0 victory at Borussia Moenchengladbach.
The win, Leipzig’s sixth from seven matches in all competitions, helped them climb back into the top four.
Union Berlin’s midweek exertions at Real Madrid, their debut Champions League fixture, took their toll as they went down 2-0 to Hoffenheim in the German capital.
Union fought hard in Madrid, the score 0-0 until an injury-time strike from former Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham saw Real snatch the three points in the Champions League clash.
Union fell behind early on Saturday, Italy captain Leonardo Bonucci giving away a penalty which Andrej Kramaric converted, before Hoffenheim’s Maximilian Beier added another in the first half.
Elsewhere, 10-man Augsburg picked up their first league victory the season, coming from behind to beat Mainz 2-1 at home.
In Saturday’s late game, Werder Bremen host winless Cologne.
Ten-man Man City show silk and steel to extend Premier League lead
- Phil Foden and Erling Haaland struck inside the first 15 minutes as City extended their perfect start in the Premier League to six games
- Luton picked up their first ever Premier League point but let a huge opportunity slip in a 1-1 draw at home to Wolves
MANCHESTER, UK: Manchester City moved five points clear at the top of the Premier League despite having Rodri sent-off in a fiery 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest on Saturday.
Phil Foden and Erling Haaland struck inside the first 15 minutes as City extended their perfect start in the Premier League to six games.
Pep Guardiola’s men have now won 20 consecutive home matches in all competitions, but were made to work much harder by Rodri’s moment of madness.
The Spaniard grabbed Morgan Gibbs-White around the neck less than 60 seconds into the second-half and could face a costly suspension as a three-game ban would see him miss the Premier League visit to Arsenal next month.
“An exceptional game in the first-half. Exceptional game in the second for our resilience and our work because we played 52 minutes 10 against 11, so it was not easy but we were fantastic,” said Guardiola.
“Hopefully Rodri will learn. He has to control his emotions.”
City were at their ruthless best early on to seemingly put the game to bed.
Foden smashed home a sweet volley from Kyle Walker’s cushioned cross to open the scoring.
Guardiola said after losing Bernardo Silva to injury in a 3-1 win over Red Star Belgrade that his squad was “in trouble” due to a number of injuries.
Mateo Kovacic and John Stones remain sidelined, while Jack Grealish was only fit enough for a place on the bench.
But the absences gave Matheus Nunes a chance to make his first league start since joining from Wolves and he made a positive impact by setting up the second goal.
The Portuguese played a neat one-two with Foden before chipping the ball across for Haaland to power home his ninth goal of the season.
Julian Alvarez could have added to City’s lead when his effort from point-blank range was blocked behind.
But the European champions did not appear in any danger until Rodri lost his cool.
Taiwo Awoniyi had Forest’s best chance to get back into the game when the in-form Nigerian lifted over under pressure from Ederson.
Awoniyi and the Brazilian goalkeeper were then lucky not to also see red as they went head-to-head in a fiery confrontation.
City, though, restored order as Guardiola switched to a back five to withstand an aerial bombardment from the visitors.
Haaland should have had his second when he spooned over with the goal gaping from Nathan Ake’s cross late on.
Elsewhere, Luton picked up their first ever Premier League point but let a huge opportunity slip in a 1-1 draw at home to Wolves.
The visitors at Kenilworth Road were reduced to 10 men when Jean-Ricner Bellegarde saw red on 39 minutes.
Pedro Neto still fired Wolves in front early in the second-half, but Carlton Morris’ penalty salved a point for Luton.
Crystal Palace and Fulham remain in the top half after a 0-0 draw at Selhurst Park.
Manchester United are aiming to avoid a fourth consecutive defeat when they travel to Burnley later on Saturday.
The Red Devils’ title aspirations already appear over as they sit 12 points adrift of City and they lost 4-3 in their Champions League opener to Bayern Munich in midweek.
Burnley are still seeking their first win since returning to the Premier League and another United defeat would pile huge pressure on Erik ten Hag.
All the pack directly behind City at the top of the table are in action on Sunday.
Arsenal host Tottenham in the north London derby, while Liverpool host West Ham and Brighton take on Bournemouth.
Spain’s World Cup winners return to action after sexism scandal with 3-2 win in Sweden
- Athenea del Castillo:They have been difficult days for everyone
- Putellas was captain for the game in a Spain team containing seven starters from the World Cup final against England
GOTHENBURG, Sweden: Spain’s World Cup-winning women’s team got back to being soccer players on Friday.
A 3-2 victory over Sweden in Gothenburg — secured by a penalty with virtually the last kick of the game — was Spain’s first match since capturing the biggest prize in women’s soccer last month in Australia. That achievement ultimately was tarnished by a sexism scandal sparked by the former Spanish soccer federation president, Luis Rubiales, kissing player Jenni Hermoso on the lips during the World Cup awards ceremony.
The fallout has been far-reaching, remaining high up the global news agenda and continuing right up to the eve of the match when a deal was reached between the players, federation and government mediators that Spain’s players believe will lead to real reform inside the beleaguered federation and mark a turning point in the fight for equality.
To get to that point, the players were engaged in through-the-night meetings and constant telephone calls, all the while staying under massive external scrutiny that hardly provided the best preparation for a Nations League match against the world’s top-ranked team.
Still, the Spanish showed the kind of battling qualities that have characterized the off-the-field fight against their federation by coming from behind at the Ullevi stadium, clinching the win when Mariona Caldentey converted a spot kick in the sixth minute of second-half stoppage time. The final whistle blew immediately after the resulting restart and Spain’s players celebrated wildly.
“They have been difficult days for everyone,” said Athenea del Castillo, who scored Spain’s first goal, “but we have shown that we are a true team that wants to represent its country and that is what it is about — fighting until the end.”
A 23rd-minute opener by captain Magdalena Eriksson gave Sweden the lead but Spain replied through Del Castillo’s equalizer in the 37th, when her shot from outside the area squirmed out of goalkeeper ZeCira Musovic’s grasp and bounced into the net.
Spain went ahead in the 77th through Eva Navarro, who curled a left-footed shot into the top corner, only for Lina Hurtig to make it 2-2 five minutes later.
The penalty was awarded with seconds left of added-on time when Amanda Ilestedt pulled back Amaiur Sarriegi in the area, a foul that earned the center back a red card.
“I told them that it is a day in which they have dignified the profession that they enjoy so much and I felt happy,” newly appointed Spain coach Montse Tomé said. “It has been a special debut in a complicated week, but I felt like we could use that energy and focus it on football.”
Before the match, players from both teams got together and held aloft a banner containing the words “Se Acabo” — Spanish for “this is over” – followed by “Our fight is the global fight.” There was applause around the stadium.
The “Se Acabo” slogan was started by Hermoso’s teammate Alexia Putellas, Spain’s star player, and has been a rallying call amid the scandal.
Putellas was captain for the game in a Spain team containing seven starters from the World Cup final against England. Hermoso wasn’t one of them because she wasn’t called up “as a way to protect her,” in the words of Tome.
Spain returns to action on Tuesday against Switzerland in its first home game as world champion.
Meanwhile, three national team players have been summoned as witnesses by the judge investigating Rubiales for the kiss. The players, who were not named, are expected to testify next week.
The federation earlier Friday announced that it fired its integrity director, Miguel García Caba. The announcement came a few days after it said secretary general Andreu Camps was relieved of his duties. The changes were part of the demands made by the players who boycotted the national team after the kiss by Rubiales.