Dortmund’s title defense hits snag at Hannover 96

Reuters, BERLIN

Tue, Oct 09, 2012 - Page 18

Champions Borussia Dortmund lost ground in their title defense, conceding an 85th-minute equalizer at Hannover 96 in a 1-1 draw on Sunday to drop nine points behind Bundeliga leaders Bayern Munich.

Hannover substitute Mame Diouf scored five minutes from time to extend the hosts’ unbeaten run at home to 22 matches and deny Dortmund, who had scored through Robert Lewandowski, their first back-to-back league wins this season.

The result means Dortmund, who also had three players injured in the game, drop to fourth on 12 points.

Bayern Munich beat TSG 1899 Hoffenheim 2-0 on Saturday to record their seventh successive league win for a maximum 21 points.

Second-placed Eintracht Frankfurt are on 16 after their unbeaten run this season ended when they went down 2-0 at Borussia Moenchengladbach earlier on Sunday.

Hannover are in fifth on 11 points, level with Bayer 04 Leverkusen, who drew 2-2 at VfB Stuttgart in the other late game on Sunday.

“Fouls were being awarded against my very clean team almost every second,” Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp told reporters. “Everyone needs ice packs — tendons, ligaments, everything.”

“We should have finished off the game with our quick breaks, but I am not too interested in our gap with Bayern. I am more interested in the two games we still have to play against them this season,” he said.

Visitors Dortmund, fresh from their 1-1 draw at Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League last week, were forced to work hard against the Europa League competitors from the start.

They had goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller to thank for denying Hannover a fifth-minute lead after he saved Artur Sobiech’s long-range effort.

Dortmund struck in the 26th minute when Lukasz Piszczek cut back for fellow Poland international Lewandowski, who had no trouble beating his marker and tapping in from close range.

The striker then turned provider on the half-hour mark to set up Poland captain Jakub Blaszczykowski, whose low drive whizzed narrowly wide.

Hannover came close to equalizing on the stroke of halftime when Didier Ya Konan chased down a Jan Schlaudraff pass, rounded Weidenfeller, but saw his effort saved on the line by Piszczek.

Dortmund, who had to substitute defender Mats Hummels, Blaszczykowski and Sven Bender because of injuries, responded with a Pizszczek shot that hit the post, before a spectacular Weidenfeller save on the hour from a reckless Piszczek clearance.

With Hannover piling on the pressure, Mame Diouf is unlikely to forget his missed chance when with 12 minutes left he found himself in front of an empty goal, but miskicked to send the ball into Weidenfeller’s arms near the post.

However, the Senegalese forward made amends toward the end, tapping in after Dortmund had failed to clear a deflected free-kick.

Borussia Moenchengladbach ended promoted Frankfurt’s surprise unbeaten run in the Bundesliga for their first win since August.

Venezuelan Juan Arango’s long-range thunderbolt and Dutchman Luuk de Jong’s 25th-minute strike were enough to end ’Gladbach’s five-game winless streak stretching back to the season’s first match.

’Gladbach, who had conceded seven goals in their previous two games, moved up to 10th place on nine points. Second-placed Eintracht have 16.