A first-ever top-flight goal for 19-year-old Jonathan Burkardt on Wednesday saw German minnows FSV Mainz all but secure Bundesliga survival with a surprise 2-0 victory at Borussia Dortmund.
Local boy Burkardt, making only his second start of the campaign, gave his side a shock lead when he headed in Ridle Baku’s cross after a drab first 30 minutes.
“I told Jonny before the game to believe in this chance. He’s a very hard-working guy. His heart is in the right place, but he has had to be patient this season,” Mainz coach Achim Beierlorzer said.
The goal sparked a season-saving performance for Mainz, who later doubled the lead through a Jean-Philippe Mateta penalty to put clear daylight between themselves and the drop zone.
“These three points are worth double. It’s not over yet, but we took a huge step in the right direction,” Mainz defender Jean-Paul Boetius said.
With UEFA Champions League qualification secured and Bayern crowned champions, second-placed Dortmund had little to play for. They barely threatened the visitors’ goal as the clock ticked down.
With two games left, Mainz have a five-point lead over the bottom three, after Fortuna Duesseldorf snatched a 2-2 draw at RB Leipzig.
Two curling strikes from Kevin Kampl and Timo Werner appeared to have condemned Duesseldorf to the bottom three, but late goals from Steven Skrzybski and Andre Hoffmann saw Uwe Roesler’s side rescue a crucial point.
They remain third from the bottom in the relegation playoff place, just a single point above Werder Bremen in the race to avoid automatic relegation.
Elsewhere, Bayer 04 Leverkusen broke back into the top four with a 3-1 win over local rivals Cologne.
Sven Bender turned in a low corner from Leon Bailey at the near post to give Leverkusen an early lead, while talisman Havertz added a second shortly before halftime.
Sebastiaan Bornauw’s second-half header briefly gave Cologne hope, but it was extinguished late on by a fine individual goal from Moussa Diaby.
The race for the Champions League is tight, with just a single point separating Leverkusen and fifth-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach ahead of the final two games.
Earlier, a 2-1 defeat away to Eintracht Frankfurt saw David Wagner’s Schalke 04 side extend their winless streak to 14 games.
A new club record as of last weekend, the dismal run has seen Schalke plummet from the top four to the middle of the table.
Goals either side of halftime from Andre Silva and David Abraham saw a dominant Frankfurt take a comfortable two-goal lead, before US international Weston McKennie headed Schalke back into the game on the hour mark.
While Schalke continue to sink, Frankfurt are hoping to make a late charge for European qualification. They now sit four points behind the coveted seventh spot.
“Our aim has to be to pick up six points and hope that the two teams ahead of us slip up,” Frankfurt midfielder Sebastian Rode told broadcaster DAZN.
Yet, TSG 1899 Hoffenheim appear to be the favorites to claim the final UEFA Europa League spot, after they fought to a 3-1 win over Augsburg on Wednesday.
A quick-fire brace from Munas Dabbur and a late prod from Ihlas Bebou were enough to take the three points from Augsburg, who were briefly given hope by Ruben Vargas’ second-half header.
SWEEP THE LEG: Poirier, determined to best McGregor, after losing to him in 2014, used low calf kicks to throw ‘Notorious’ off his stand-up game, before dropping him American underdog Dustin Poirier yesterday shook up the world of mixed martial arts, beating up the legs of Irish superstar Conor McGregor before knocking him out at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi. “I’m happy, but I’m not surprised. I put in the work,” Poirier said, after the referee stepped in after 2 minutes, 32 seconds of the second round to save McGregor from further damage, after he was dropped by a fierce combination of punches. The 32-year-old Poirier was ranked second in the flyweight division going into the fight, but still rated a heavy underdog by bookmakers to beat his fourth-ranked opponent,
World No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying yesterday eased past her Thai opponent to advance to the second round of the Toyota Thailand Open. The Taiwanese star toppled world No. 46 Supanida Katethong 21-16, 21-11 in 29 minutes at the Impact Arena in Bangkok. “I think I played OK today. I am feeling a little better than last week,” Tai said. Tomorrow, Tai faces Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung. The two have faced each other six times, with Tai beating the world No. 21 in all six matches. Tai on Sunday reached the final of the Yonex Thailand Open before losing decisively against Carolina Marin of Spain.
LOOKING TO REPEAT: World No. 7 Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin advanced to the round-of-16 at the Toyota Thailand Open, after winning the Yonex Thailand Open on Sunday Taiwan’s world No. 7 duo yesterday eased past the US’ world No. 37 pairing at the Toyota Thailand Open to reach the round-of-16 in Bangkok. Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin beat Phillip Chew and Ryan Chew 21-14, 21-11 in just 24 minutes. Lee and Wang, who won the men’s doubles title at the Yonex Thailand Open on Sunday, next face the world No. 34 pairing, Canada’s Jason Anthony Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura. In men’s singles, Taiwan’s world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen again beat Thailand’s world No. 45 Suppanyu Avihingsanon, after edging past the Thai player in the opening round of the Yonex
Three new COVID-19 cases yesterday hit the Australian Open’s troubled buildup as a backlash grew against international tennis players flown in during a raging pandemic. Two of the new cases were players, state health officials said, taking the total infections to seven since more than 1,000 people arrived in largely COVID-19-free Australia on charter flights last week. The Victoria Department of Health and Human Services said that the two players and a third person associated with the tournament — a woman in her 20s, and two men in their 30s — had returned positive results. The year’s first Grand Slam, delayed three weeks,