Dortmund clinch lead into 2011; Munich crash 0-2 at Schalke

Sunday, December 5, 2010

BERLIN - Borussia Dortmund will top the Bundesliga football standings into 2011 while champions Bayern Munich crashed 0-2 at Schalke.

Jose Manuel Jurado and Benedikt Hoewedes were on target for Schalke in the second after goalkeeper Manuel Neuer had kept them in the game before intermission.

Schalke got a badly-needed breather in the lowlands, but Munich’s ambitions were dealt another blow as they languish in seventh place and could find themselves 17 points down on Dortmund by the end of the weekend.

“It is becoming more and more difficult. We must win, but we are not winning. It is unbelievable that we missed so many chances,” said Munich coach Louis van Gaal.

Dortmund, who are in Nuremberg on Sunday, clinched the unofficial “autumn title” when nearest rivals Mainz 05 crashed 1-2 at Eintracht Frankfurt earlier Saturday.

Mainz have 30 points and can’t catch Dortmund (37) in the remaining two games ahead of the winter break. Dortmund, who have won 12 of their 14 games, claimed the unofficial “autumn title” for the third time, following 1994-95 and 1995-96 in which they went on to win the title. Their last league trophy came in 2002.

The “autumn champion” has won the Bundesliga in 31 of the previous 47 seasons.

Elsewhere, VfL Wolfsburg and Werder Bremen each failed to covert a penalty in a 0-0 draw, VfB Stuttgart were held 1-1 by 10-man Hoffenheim, SC Freiburg defeated SV Hamburg 1-0 and 10-man Borussia Moenchengladbach remained last after crashing 1-2 against Hanover 96.

Coming off a 0-5 drubbing in Kaiserslautern and mid-week crisis talks, Felix Magath’s Schalke was under pressure against his former Munich team.

But the visitors were in full control in the first half, with Neuer keeping Schalke alive against Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos and getting a little help from the crossbar as well against Schweinsteiger in the 39th.

The Schalke captain then also set up the opening goal in the 58th when his long kick-off found Raul Gonzalez, the Spaniard then got past Breno as the defender slipped, and Jurado drove home from 10 metres out.

Schalke sealed the game nine minutes later when Hoewedes rose unmarked to head against the right post and tap home on the rebound.

“We were a little lucky in the first half but fought our way into the match and deserved to win. The team must continue to play like this,” said Magath.

Mainz found themselves behind in their central German derby in Frankfurt from Marco Russ’ drive in the 35th, but Andre Schuerrle levelled from the spot before halftime after Halil Altintop brought down Marcel Risse.

Mainz’s slim chances of catching Dortmund ended in the 85th when Jan Kirchhoff was harshly ruled to have handled the ball and league top scorer Theofanis Gekas converted the spot kick for his 13th goal of the season for the winner.

The 2009 champions Wolfsburg and Bremen, who last lifted the trophy in 2004, continued to struggle in the lower half of the table after the stalemate.

Bremen midfielder Torsten Frings saw his spot kick saved by Diego Benaglio in the 74th and three minutes later Edin Dzeko fired Wolfsburg’s penalty high over the bar.

St. Pauli Hamburg defeated Kaiserslautern 1-0 Friday. Leverkusen play Cologne Sunday.

Filed under: Football, Soccer

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