BERLIN — Leipzig was stopped by Borussia Dortmund from going to the top. Schalke was off the bottom after winning for the first time in a year.
Borussia Dortmund finally began to look like a Bundesliga title contender after an inconsistent start by beating Leipzig 3-1 on Saturday.
“It was a game in which you could see where it's going this season,” said Dortmund midfielder Emre Can, who went on for the injured Axel Witsel.
Leipzig was hoping to take advantage of Bayern Munich’s 3-2 loss at Borussia Moenchengladbach the day before but it remained a point behind the league leader after slumping to its first home defeat.
“We lost after nine games without defeat. Of course it's annoying because it was a home game against a direct rival,” said Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann, who acknowledged that Dortmund deserved to win “on account of the better chances.”
Neither side impressed in a cagey first half – when Witsel went off with an ankle injury – before Dortmund seized the initiative in the second.
Jadon Sancho followed up his first league goal of the season against Wolfsburg last weekend with the opener in the 55th minute. Marco Reus set up Sancho with his heel and the England forward fired inside the left post.
Erling Haaland struck the crossbar and Dani Olmo responded by hitting the post for Leipzig.
Haaland went one better in the 71st when Sancho set him up to score with a header after some fine team interplay from Dortmund. Then Reus sent the Norwegian through to round goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi and seal the win in the 84th.
Substitute Alexander Sörloth’s 89th-minute strike was too little, too late for Leipzig.
Dortmund climbed to fourth, three points behind Leipzig, after its third win in four games with new coach Edin Terzic.
“It's a big step in the right direction that we've achieved with many little steps,” Terzic said. “We had 112 misplaced passes altogether – it felt like 110 were in the first half. Thankfully we got that under control.”
SCHALKE HOPPE TRICK
American forward Matthew Hoppe scored a hat trick in Schalke’s first victory for almost a year, helping his club avoid matching Tasmania Berlin’s old Bundesliga record for consecutive winless games.
Schalke’s 4-0 win over visiting Hoffenheim ended the Gelsenkirchen-based club’s 30-game wait since its last league win on Jan. 17, 2019.
Tasmania had gone 31 straight games without a win during the 1965-66 season.
The 19-year-old Hoppe hadn’t scored before for Schalke, but he opened his account with a brilliant chip over Oliver Baumann in the 42nd minute, then rounded the Hoffenheim goalkeeper in the 57th, and completed a game to remember with his third goal in the 63rd. All three were set up by Amine Harit, who rounded off the scoring in the 80th.
The goals will have been greeted with relief in the Berlin borough of Neukölln, where Tasmania fans and officials had been hoping for a Schalke win to ensure their own club’s notoriety remained intact.
“Without this negative record, nobody in Germany or Europe would speak about Tasmania Berlin,” club chairman Almir Numic told local broadcaster Radio Eins during the week.
Bo Svensson’s debut as Mainz coach ended in a 2-0 defeat to visiting Eintracht Frankfurt, dropping Mainz to the bottom with six points as Schalke's first win took it a point above
“We mustn’t bury our heads in the sand or sink into self-pity,” Svensson said.
Freiburg routed relegation-threatened Cologne 5-0 at home, Bayer Leverkusen drew at home with Werder Bremen 1-1, and Union Berlin and Wolfsburg drew 2-2.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP
CiaráN Fahey, The Associated Press