Hamburg teeter close to first ever Bundesliga relegation

Berlin (AFP) –


Hamburg, the only club to have played every Bundesliga season, stumbled closer to a historic relegation when they crashed 3-0 at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.

On the penultimate day of the season, Marius Wolf and Omar Mascarell netted for the home team before Frankfurt's ex-captain Alexander Meier, the league's top-scorer in 2014/15, came off the bench for his first appearance this season to hit the third goal on 90 minutes and delight home fans.

Hamburg are 17th in the 18-team Bundesliga and, with one round of games to play, they cannot catch Freiburg in 15th, the lowest place that guarantees safety, but there is an another escape route, one they have used before.

Hamburg must beat mid-table Borussia Moenchengladbach next Saturday, and hope Wolfsburg, who are two points above them in 16th, lose at home to last-place Cologne.

That would lift Hamburg to 16th and into a relegation play-off against the third best team in the second tier.

In 2015 and 2016 Hamburg, who have been in the Bundesliga since the division was created in 1963, won the two-leg playoff to survive.

Wolfsburg missed the chance to put a safe gap between themselves and Hamburg, when they lost 4-1 away to RB Leipzig, who broke their five-game winless streak.

Ademola Lookman, on loan from Everton, and Germany striker Timo Werner scored early goals as Leipzig ran riot in the first half before Daniel Didavi pulled one back after the break for Wolfsburg.

However, Werner and Lookman combined again soon after for the Englishman to tuck away his second goal on 52 minutes.

Jean-Kevin Augustin scored Leipzig's fourth from 16 metres to seal a win which leaves the club sixth and on course for a Europa League berth.

Mainz guaranteed their safety with a surprise 2-1 win at Borussia Dortmund, who remain third.

In a frantic opening 15 minutes, goals by Bote Baku and Japanese striker Yoshinori Muto gave Mainz a 2-0 lead.

Dortmund pulled one back when England junior international Jadon Sancho whipped in a cross for Maximilian Philipp to fire home on 16 minutes.

- Rapid fire -

Champions Bayern Munich needed rapid-fire goals from James Rodriguez and Robert Lewandowski to seal a 3-1 come-back win at bottom side Cologne, who are already relegated.

Hosts Cologne took a shock lead when Bayern defender Niklas Suele scored his third own goal of the season, lobbing Christian Clemens' cross into his own net on half an hour.

Bayern, who were confirmed Bundesliga champions last month, snatched the lead with two second-half goals in as many minutes.

James equalised before Lewandowski drilled home his 29th league goal after Thomas Mueller held off two defenders for the final pass.

Corentin Tolisso added Bayern's third with a header.

Second-placed Schalke qualified directly for the Champions League with a 2-1 win at Augsburg.

Defender Thilo Kehrer scored twice for the Royal Blues either side of a rare goal from Augsburg playmaker Philipp Max, who has 13 assists this season, the best in the league.

Bayer Leverkusen were held to a goalless draw at Werder Bremen, but their Champions League hopes were boosted as fourth-placed Hoffenheim crashed to a 2-0 defeat at 10-man Stuttgart.

Germany striker Mario Gomez scored both goals while Stuttgart midfielder Santiago Ascacibar was sent off for two yellow cards.

Both Leverkusen, fifth, and Hoffenheim now have 52 points.