Mon, Jan 17, 2011 - Page 18 News List

Dortmund sitting pretty as challengers fail to win


VfB Stuttgart’s Martin Harnik, left, scores the opening goal against FSV Mainz 05 during their Bundesliga match in Stuttgart, Germany, on Saturday.

Photo: AFP

Borussia Dortmund stayed 13 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga on Saturday after second-placed FSV Mainz 05 lost at VfB Stuttgart and champions Bayern Munich drew 1-1 at VfL Wolfsburg in a game where both sides missed penalties.

Dortmund had blitzed Bayer Leverkusen with three goals in six minutes on Friday as Jurgen Klopp’s young side showed no signs of releasing their grip on top spot.

After former England coach Steve McClaren sold striker Edin Dzeko to Manchester City over the winter break, Wolfsburg lacked firepower up front against Bayern, but showed dogged determination against the champions.

Bayern’s Dutch star Arjen Robben conceded Dortmund may now be too far ahead for Munich, who are 16 points off the pace, to retain their title.

“There’s no point talking about first place any more, as several of us have already said,” Robben said after making his first appearance of the season. “Obviously, there’s always hope while it’s still theoretically possible, but we’re just too far behind. You have to accept and also respect that. It’s simply a superb achievement by Dortmund, you can already congratulate them on winning the title. Dortmund are simply too far ahead.”

Bayern opened the scoring when Thomas Mueller went one-on-one with goalkeeper Deigo Benaglio for a loose ball 20m out and the ball bounced off the Munich man’s legs and into the empty net.

Philipp Lahm then saw his penalty attempt slam off the post after he beat Benaglio following a foul on Bayern’s Danijel Pranjic by Ashkan Dejagah on 21 minutes.

There was bad news for Bayern four minutes later when playmaker Franck Ribery, who has only just come back from injury, went over on his ankle while competing for the ball and limped off, but Bayern showed the strength of their squad when Robben came on for his first appearance of the season since picking up thigh injury at the World Cup in July last year.

Dejagah then won a penalty for the hosts when he was fouled by Bayern’s Germany defender Holger Badstuber in stoppage-time at the end of the first half.

Bayern ’keeper Thomas Kraft, who was making his Bundesliga debut, showed he could cope with the pressure by pulling off a reflex save from Brazil striker Grafite.

Wolfsburg secured a point when defender Sascha Riether netted with less than five minutes to go.

Mueller almost poached victory when he found the target in the 89th minute, only for his effort to be ruled offside.

In Saturday’s late match, Real Madrid target Ruud van Nistelrooy scored the only goal in Hamburg SV’s 1-0 win over Schalke 04, who have reached the last 16 of the Champions League.

Real are reported to be interested in re-signing the Dutch striker, but the German side are keen to hold on to their forward.

Borussia Moenchengladbach gave themselves a boost in their battle to stay up with a 1-0 win at Nuremberg, with goalkeeper Christofer Heimeroth making a dramatic late penalty save.

Senegal striker Papiss Demba Cisse scored twice to go top of the league’s goalscoring list with 15 as he helped SC Freiburg sneak a 2-2 draw at St Pauli.

Werder Bremen picked up a rare win after captain Torsten Frings drilled in a free-kick in the second minute of stoppage-time to seal a 2-1 win over TSG 1899 Hoffenheim.

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