Mon, Dec 06, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Nuremberg stuns Bayern

AP , BERLINAP, LONDONAP, GLASGOWAP, MADRIDAP, AMSTERDAM

Munich's Bastian Schweinsteiger, left, vies with Nuremberg's Robert Vittek during their Bundesliga match at Frankenstadion in Nuremberg, Germany on Saturday.

PHOTO: AFP

Marek Mintal scored his league-leading 13th goal Saturday, and a roaring crowd helped short-handed FC Nuremberg stun front-runner Bayern Munich 2-2 to throw the Bundesliga title race wide open.

Bayern's draw in a wild derby -- which featured two red cards, disputed calls and Nuremberg's spirited fight with 10 men for 65 minutes -- gave Schalke a chance to pull even on points with a win Sunday against Dortmund.

Also, Stuttgart routed Bochum 5-2 behind two Kevin Kuranyi goals to close to within three points of Bayern on a day when the Bundesliga overcame chilly weather to generate a season-record 30 goals in seven matches.

Bayern came into the south German derby riding a six-match winning streak and had scored 15 goals in its last four matches. For the opening minutes, it appeared headed to another rout.

Forward Roy Makaay wasted a wide open chance in the second minute and Michael Ballack's 10th-minute header was falsely ruled offsides.

"There was no way Makaay should miss that goal. If he had scored, we could have spared ourselves all the drama later," disgusted Bayern coach Felix Magath said. "But I guess it was entertaining for the crowd."

The 42,500 spectators at Frankenstadion came alive in the 23rd minute when Mintal put the hosts ahead -- Nuremberg's first real threat against the dominant Bayern. Even the ejection of Andreas Wolf two minutes later didn't stop the roaring.

The Croatian striker met a long cross in the air, forcing Oliver Kahn into an acrobatic one-handed save, but Mintal headed the rebound past the sprawling Bayern goalkeeper.

"The only way we could stay in the match was through passion and by fighting," said Nuremberg coach Wolfgang Wolf, who celebrated the draw with his 12th-place team like it was a title.

Nuremberg players credited the vocal crowd with spurring on their effort. The spectators responded with a standing ovation at the final whistle.

Bayern next faces Stuttgart in the 17th and final round before the league's two-month winter break in a showdown for the "fall championship." One of the two clubs, along with Schalke, will spend the idle months atop the table.

Munich has 33 points, followed by Stuttgart and Schalke with 30. But Schalke has Sunday's match in hand.

There was also plenty of entertainment for the rest of the league's fans, starting with Bremen's 6-0 rout of Freiburg and Berlin's 6-0 thrashing of Moenchengladbach.

Also, surprising Hannover climbed to fourth with a 2-0 win against Hamburg, Leverkusen edged Wolfsburg 2-1 and Rostock and Bielefeld drew 1-1.

Arsenal won for the first time in five matches Saturday, getting two goals from Thierry Henry to beat Birmingham 3-0, while Chelsea and Manchester United also posted comfortable wins in the Premier League.

Arsenal dropped its German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann, who had started every match in the club's record 49 match unbeaten league streak, for Manuel Almunia.

The Spaniard kept Arsenal's first clean sheet in 14 matches, but didn't have a lot to do. Robert Pires added the other goal at Highbury.

"It's good to get back to our winning habits," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. "It was important for us to win today, maybe a bit less in style, but we did the job. We did it with a great focus and a great strength."

Chelsea stayed in first place, five points ahead of Arsenal, with a 4-0 win over Newcastle.

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