Tue, Mar 09, 2010 - Page 18 News List

BUNDES LIGA: FC Nuremberg survive rally to beat Leverkusen

AFP , BERLIN

FSV Mainz 05’s Andreas Ivanschitz, left, vies for the ball with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim’s Andreas Ibertsberger during their Bundesliga match at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena in Sinsheim, Germany, on Sunday.

PHOTO: AFP

Striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored twice on Sunday as struggling Nuremberg inflicted a shock 3-2 defeat on Bayer Leverkusen, their first of the season, to dent their title aspirations.

With league leaders Bayern Munich drawing 1-1 at Cologne on Saturday, the defeat leaves Leverkusen three points off the pace in third, while Nuremberg escape the bottom three after surviving a desperate fightback.

Nuremberg’s win raises them up to 15th — disastrous news for bottom side Hertha Berlin, Nuremberg’s opponents next weekend in the capital, who are now six points adrift from safety and five points behind second-from-bottom SC Freiburg.

“I am overjoyed,” Nuremberg’s Choupo-Moting said. “I knew they had very good defenders, but I was 100 percent determined to put the ball in the back of the net. It was an important win, but every game is important for us from now on. They were special opponents, but so are Hertha Berlin next week.”

Nuremberg’s win was thoroughly deserved as the hosts enjoyed a 3-0 lead with less than 30 minutes left, before Leverkusen fought back.

“That was a great performance from my team,” Nuremberg coach Dieter Hecking said. “We couldn’t do any more after going 3-0 up, but my team fought unbelievably.”

Choupo-Moting, 20, showed cool finishing to slot home past Germany goalkeeper Rene Adler on 42 minutes and then held off two defenders to add a second on the stroke of halftime to make it 2-0 at the break.

With the former league leaders stunned, Senegal midfielder Mickael Tavares then added a third on 55 minutes as Leverkusen were staring down the barrel of their first defeat of the season.

Leverkusen finally came to life on 66 minutes when midfielder Arturo Vidal and defender Gonzalo Castro combined to find Stefan Kiessling free in the penalty area, and the Germany striker made no mistake with his shot.

Fellow national teammate Patrick Helmes, making only his sixth appearance of the season after a knee injury, scored the second on 73 minutes to ensure a tense last few minutes.

Both Castro and Vidal were booked in the final moments of the game in their desperation to win the ball back from Nuremberg, but the hosts hung on.

“We woke up too late,” Bayer Leverkusen playmaker Toni Kroos said. “We weren’t aggressive enough in the first half and didn’t win the individual battles.”

Burkino Faso striker Aristide Bance hit the winner for mid-table FSV Mainz 05 on Sunday night as they won 1-0 at TSG 1899 Hoffeheim.

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