Tue, Apr 28, 2009 - Page 18 News List

BUNDES LIGA: Wolfsburg loss throws Bundesliga wide open

AFP , BERLIN

Energie Cottbus’ Ovidiu-Nicusor Burca, right, vies for the ball with Wolfsburg’s Grafite during their Bundesliga soccer match in Cottbus, Germany, on Sunday.

PHOTO: EPA

Relegation-threatened Energie Cottbus threw the Bundesliga title race wide open on Sunday when the strugglers inflicted a shock 2-0 defeat on league leaders Wolfsburg.

Wolfsburg were cruising toward a point before Bulgaria striker Dimitar Rangelov headed Cottbus ahead in the 72nd minute and the hosts proved the goal was no fluke when Albania midfielder Ervin Skela added a second on 86 minutes.

The valuable three points takes Cottbus out of the bottom three while Wolfsburg missed the chance to go five points clear and suffered their first league defeat since they lost 2-1 at Werder Bremen in December.

“We wasted some big chances and therefore we lost the game,” Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath said.

“Our forwards did not have their best day and when you don’t take your chances, you won’t win. We were not as strong and compact as we would have liked to be. For us it is about taking fifth place and getting into Europe next season, so things look good,” he said.

The result is even more extraordinary, as Cottbus were hammered 4-0 at Schalke in their last league game — a defeat so bad they offered their traveling fans a refund on their match tickets.

Despite the shock upset, Wolfsburg stay two points clear at the top of the table with Hertha Berlin second after midfielder Patrick Ebert hit a first-half goal to seal a 1-0 win at early-season pacesetters Hoffenheim on Friday.

The leaders’ defeat means three of the top five sides — Bayern Munich, Wolfsburg and Hamburg — all lost this weekend, while Hertha and Stuttgart seized their chance to capitalize, three points now separating the top five.

Bayern’s 1-0 loss at home to Schalke on Saturday leaves the defending champions in third place, while Hamburg’s 2-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund puts Martin Jol’s side back in fifth.

With five matches remaining, Hamburg are on 54 points with both Stuttgart and Bayern, with Hertha Berlin on 55 and Wolfsburg leading with 57.

Bottom side Karlsruhe gave themselves a chance of staying up after beating Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 on Saturday with one of the luckiest goals of the season.

Karlsruhe defender Sebastian Langkamp lunged at the ball on the halfway line to try to win possession, but got more than he could have dreamed of when the ball curled over the Leverkusen defense and goalkeeper Rene Adler and into the net.

His 72nd-minute strike leaves Karlsruhe two points behind relegation rivals Borussia Moenchengladbach, who drew 1-1 with Bielefeld on Sunday, while mid-table Hanover enjoyed a 2-0 win over Cologne on Saturday.

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