Frankfurt edge closer to Champions League

29 April 2013 03:30

Eintracht Frankfurt edged closer to a Champions League spot next season after Sunday's goalless Bundesliga draw at Mainz, while Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund both fielded reserve teams ahead of their European semi-finals.

Frankfurt's draw moves them up to just a point behind fourth-placed Schalke 04, who host Hamburg on Sunday night, with the team finishing fourth in the Bundesliga going into the play-offs for a Champions League spot.

On Saturday, Bayern made ten changes from their stunning Champions League semi-final, first leg 4-0 win over Barcelona, but still beat Freiburg 1-0 at home to break the record for the number of points in a Bundesliga season.

Centre-back Jerome Boateng was the only survivor from the starting line-up which blitzed Barcelona last Tuesday at the Allianz Arena as coach Jupp Heynckes rested his stars for Wednesday's return leg at the Camp Nou.

Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri hit the winner when he fired in a direct free-kick on 35 minutes to give Bayern, who were confirmed as champions three weeks ago, their 27th win from their 31 league games this season.

With 84 points this season, they have now passed Borussia Dortmund's previous record of 81, set in May 2012, for the most Bundesliga points collected in a season, but were made to work by a dogged Freiburg side.

It was also Heynckes' 50th Bundesliga victory since taking charge at Bayern in July 2011 with his team bidding to become the first German team to win the treble of European, league and cup titles.

Freiburg drop to sixth in the league but only two points separate the five teams bidding for fourth and that illustrious Champions League place.

Second-placed Dortmund, who routed Real Madrid 4-1 last Wednesday in their Champions League semi-final, first leg, also made 10 changes for their 2-1 win at Fortuna Duesseldorf.

Centre-back Mats Hummels was the only survivor from the Real win when striker Robert Lewandowski scored four goals, as coach Jurgen Klopp blooded several younger members of his squad.

The Poland star failed to score after coming off the bench for the last 20 minutes, bringing to an end his club record-run having scored in 12 consecutive games.

Midfielder Nuri Sahin put Dortmund ahead with a stunning goal from 35 metres out before Poland captain Jakub Blaszczykowski scoring in the 70th minute, 60 seconds after coming off the bench.

But Duesseldorf midfielder Adam Bodzek pulled a goal back with a header two minutes from time before Dortmund's Australian goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak pulled off a stunning save in added time to push Martin Latka's shot onto the post.

Bayer Leverkusen remain third with a 1-0 home win over Werder Bremen who suspended Austrian bad-boy striker Marko Arnautovic and Dutch forward Eljero Elia after the former was cautioned by police for speeding on Friday.

Germany striker Stefan Kiessling netted a 35th-minute penalty which confirmed Bayer's Champions League place for next season with a ten-point lead over fourth-placed Schalke 04 and three matches left.

Mid-table VfL Wolfsburg ran out 3-0 winners at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach, but the relegation battle heated up with two of the bottom three teams picking up wins.

After their 3-2 defeat at home to Hanover 96, bottom side Greuther Fuerth's relegation was confirmed as 16th-placed Augsburg romped to a 3-0 win at home to German Cup finalists VfB Stuttgart.

Second-from-bottom Hoffenheim beat Nuremberg 2-1 to keep their survival hopes alive.

The team that finishes 16th enters a promotion/relegation play-off against the side that finishes third in the second division.

Fuerth, who host Freiburg in a fortnight, have now just one home match left to avoid becoming the first Bundesliga team to go an entire campaign without a single home victory.

Source: AFP