Kovac still 'confident' after Bayern let Dortmund back into title race
Berlin (AFP) –
Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac said he his still confident of winning the Bundesliga after his team missed the chance to wrap up a seventh successive title thanks to a goalless draw at RB Leipzig on Saturday.
Rivals Borussia Dortmund edged a nervy contest with Fortuna Duesseldorf 3-2 to return to within two points of Bayern and take the title race to the final day, but Kovac backed Bayern to beat his former club Eintracht Frankfurt next Saturday and clinch the title at home for the first time since 2000.
"I am confident for next week. It will be a league final, and that is something we haven't seen for years," Kovac told Sky.
"It was frustrating today because we were clearly the better team."
Bayern dominated Leipzig for much of the game, and Leon Goretzka's stylish second half scissor-kick briefly sent them into ecstasy before the goal was ruled out by VAR.
Serge Gnabry then hit the bar before Robert Lewandowski grazed the post minutes from time.
"If we play like that next week, we will be champions," Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told Sky.
Dortmund, who looked dead and buried after slipping four points behind last week, enjoyed the rub of the green as they stumbled to victory over Duesseldorf.
Chelsea-bound US international Christian Pulisic bid an emotional farewell to the Dortmund fans before his last home game, and then opened the scoring on 41 minutes.
A howler from stand-in goalkeeper Marwin Hitz allowed Oliver Fink to equalise within seconds of the restart, but Thomas Delaney restored the lead for Dortmund on 53 minutes.
Hitz then gave away a penalty with a foul on Dodi Lukebakio, but the Belgian saved the keeper's blushes by dragging wide from 12 yards.
Mario Goetze looked to have sealed the three points when he added a third in stoppage only for Dawid Kownacki to pull one back for Duesseldorf seconds later to make it a nerve-jangling finish for the hosts.
"We keep believing," said Pulisic, whose team must win at Borussia Moenchengladbach next Saturday to have any chance to snatching the title.
"We can only control what we do, but the coach has always said that everything is possible."
- Nuremberg and Hanover relegated -
At the other end of the table, Nuremberg and Hanover were finally relegated as Stuttgart secured the relegation play-off place with a 3-0 win over Wolfsburg.
Hanover went down fighting as goals from Waldemar Anton, Ihlas Bebou and Walace saw them beat Freiburg 3-0.
Yet Anastasios Donis, Gonzalo Castro and Daniel Didavi were on the mark for Stuttgart to condemn Hanover and Nuremberg to the drop.
Nuremberg, meanwhile, were hammered 4-0 by Borussia Moenchengladbach thanks to an own-goal from Lukas Muehl and strikes from Thorgan Hazard, Denis Zakaria and former Nuremberg man Josip Drmic.
The thumping win sees Gladbach go fourth, leapfrogging both Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen, who were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Schalke, Guido Burgstaller cancelling out Kai Havertz's opener.
Frankfurt have the chance to break back into the top four with a win over Mainz on Sunday.
Werder Bremen also kept their European hopes alive with a 1-0 win at Hoffenheim, and Hertha Berlin snatched a late 4-3 victory away to Augsburg.
Johannes Eggestein's first-half goal condemned RB Leipzig-bound coach Julian Nagelsmann to defeat in his last home game in charge of Hoffenheim.
Andre Hahn and Michael Gregoritsch put Augsburg ahead three times but goals from Marvin Plattenhardt and Marko Grujic kept Hertha in the game before a late brace from Salomon Kalou secured three points.
? 2019 AFP