Bayer Leverkusen falls to Hoffenheim; Frankfurt ousts Nurnberg
BERLIN (AP) — Hoffenheim defeated Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 in the Bundesliga on Sunday, handing the home side its eighth loss in nine games across all competitions, while Eintracht Frankfurt defeated Nuremberg 5-2 to ease its relegation fears.
American defender Fabian Johnson crossed for Anthony Modeste to tuck the ball away in the 89th minute for Hoffenheim. The French striker pointed to the net in an apparent reference to the ”ghost goal” scored by Stefan Kiessling in the sides’ last meeting, when the ball went through a hole in the sidenetting.
Sead Salihovic put the visitors in front with a penalty in the 14th, after Roberto Hilbert handled in the area.
Emir Spahic crossed for Kiessling to equalize with a header in the 39th, but there was an immediate brilliant response from Kevin Volland, who eluded Andres Guardado and lifted the ball over the Leverkusen keeper inside the far post.
The home side equalized again through Simon Rolfes, set up by Lars Bender’s back-heel after Hoffenheim `keeper Jens Grahl saved Guardado’s free kick.
Modeste had the final say with his 10th goal of the season to increase the pressure on Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypia.
Leverkusen was once second but now sits fourth, just two points ahead of Borussia Moenchengladbach in the last Champions League qualification place.
”It’s about the Champions League,” Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender said. ”I’ve no desire to play in the Europa League next year. We have to show that for the whole game and not just for a few moments.”
Earlier, Eintracht Frankfurt handed Nurnberg its fourth straight Bundesliga loss, winning 5-2 on Sunday to leave the home side mired in the relegation zone.
The visitors went ahead in the 21st minute, when Stefan Aigner blocked Emanuel Pogatetz’ attempted clearance and crossed for Tranquillo Barnetta to score.
Nurnberg was dealt a further blow when defender Ondrej Petrak suffered a suspected broken nose and concussion after receiving Joselu’s elbow to the face in a challenge.
Nurnberg captain Raphael Schaefer suggested Joselu should have been sent off.
”It’s quite clear. Everyone can see it,” the goalkeeper said. ”Red card and we would have conceded two goals less.”
Aigner unselfishly set up Joselu in the 49th, and Alexander Madlung thought he’d decided the game with Frankfurt’s third four minutes after that.
”There was only fear in the first half. We played like a relegated team,” Nurnberg coach Gertjan Veerbek said.
But Josip Drmic scored the goal of the afternoon in the 64th, controlling Jose Campana’s cross with his first touch and then firing high to far corner with his next, and Campana reduced the deficit further four minutes later with a shot from distance.
Nurnberg’s revival was ended when Javier Pinola was sent off for bringing down Joselu as the last defender in the 80th.
The Spanish striker decided the game on a counterattack in the 88th and set up Vaclav Kadlec for the visitors’ fifth in injury time.
”The way I see it, we were lucky a red card wasn’t issued (for Joselu). It would have been very close for us then,” Aigner said.
The result lifted Frankfurt to 12th, six points clear of Nurnberg and Hamburg in the relegation zone.