A Michael Ballack-inspired Bayer Leverkusen beat Schalke 04 2-0 on Sunday to cut Borussia Dortmund’s lead at the top of the Bundesliga to seven points.
Dortmund were held to a draw at home by FSV Mainz 05 on Saturday, tightening things up at the top of the table with seven matches to go, but Borussia remain on course for their first German title since 2002.
First-half goals by Schalke’s Germany defender Christoph Metzelder, who headed into his own net after 27 minutes, and Leverkusen’s Eren Derdiyok sealed the win that keeps Bayer second.
Ballack, 34, making only his 10th league appearance of the season after back-to-back injuries, was left out of the Germany squad named on Friday to face Kazakhstan and Australia, but the former Germany captain bolstered Leverkusen.
“Michael Ballack put in an encouraging display, he ran very strongly and looked good,” coach Jupp Heynckes said.
Ballack played the full 90 minutes and was heavily involved in the build-up for Derdiyok’s goal after linking with Germany teammate Simon Rolfes and he is showing glimpses of the form that saw him win 98 caps for his country.
Leverkusen fans called Ballack over to celebrate with them and lead their victory chants through a loudspeaker — as is traditional in the Bundesliga after a big win — an honor for the former Chelsea star.
“The fans called him over to get on the speaker,” Leverkusen captain Rolfes said. “This has all been good.”
The defeat leaves Schalke, who drew Italy’s Inter in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Friday, 10th in the league.
VfL Wolfsburg welcomed back coach Felix Magath, who was sacked by Schalke on Wednesday, with a 1-1 draw over strugglers VfB Stuttgart, as defender Georg Niedermeier scored a crucial equalizer for the hosts.
Brazil striker Grafite put his side ahead in the 40th minute — his first goal since November — before Niedermeier scored in the 94th minute.
Magath, 57, coached Wolfsburg to the 2009 German league title and re-joined them again on Friday.
The draw leaves his team in the relegation zone, while 2007 Bundesliga champions Stuttgart are just above the bottom three in 15th.
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017