Football: Dortmund open three-point lead as Bayern draw

BERLIN: Borussia Dortmund earned a 1-0 win at struggling Hertha Berlin on Saturday to open a three-point lead at the top of the German league as Bayern Munich were held to a goalless draw at bottom-side Freiburg.

Bayern, who drop to third in the table, were out-played by Freiburg in the first 45 minutes and although they improved when Dutch winger Arjen Robben came on after the break, the Bavarian giants could not break down the home defence.

"We have lost two more points to Dortmund," said Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes. "Normally, you shouldn't allow such lapses as we did here.

"The team believes they have enough ability to be successful but with teams who are in the relegation fight like Freiburg, that doesn't always work.

"In the first half, we were too sluggish, we played like I wanted us to in the second-half, but we have to do that over the full 90 minutes."

With Bayern to face FC Basel in Switzerland on Wednesday in the Champions League Round of 16, first-round tie, watching Basel coach Heiko Vogel would have seen little to worry his team.

The draw leaves the bottom three teams - Kaiserslautern, Augsburg and Freibury - all on 18 points while Bayern lag four points behind Dortmund.

The leaders' only goal came when a bullet header from Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski was parried by Hertha goalkeeper Thomas Kraft with winger Kevin Grosskreutz on hand to hit an over-head shot on 66 minutes.

Berlin's Olympic Stadium was a 74,244 sell-out for the game which saw Dortmund play without injured Japan winger Shinji Kagawa and coach Jurgen Klopp starting Lucas Barrios as the lone striker.

"That was really hard work, the pitch was greasy and it was difficult to control the ball," said Klopp.

"I was thrilled by the will and attitude of the team. I think we deserved the win."

Hertha, who sacked coach Michael Skibbe last Sunday after five straight defeats, remain 15th in the league and Otto Rehhagel, who led Greece to the Euro 2004 title, will take over on Sunday.

Borussia Moenchengladbach took their chance to take second place from Bayern after a 2-1 win at Kaiserslautern.

The win came at a price as midfielder Patrick Herrmann scored Gladbach's first goal after only nine minutes, but was later carried off with a broken collarbone and is expected to be out for the next six weeks.

"It was no surprise to us how hard it was here," said Gladbach's Lucien Favre.

"Luckily, we managed to create two goals, we wanted to get a third, but then we conceded one.

"At the end of the day, we are happy with the win, because it won't be easy for the other teams to get three points from Kaiserslautern."

Werder Bremen, fifth in the league, earned the bragging rights in the north German derby with a 3-1 win at Hamburg.

Bayer Leverkusen, who were beaten 3-1 at home by holders Barcelona in the Champions League in midweek, bounced back to stay sixth with a 4-1 win over Augsburg, who are second from bottom.

Nuremberg pulled themselves up to 12th and out of the relegation mire with a 2-1 win at home to Cologne, who drop to 14th, just two places from the relegation zone.

On Sunday, Schalke 04 need a win at home to VfL Wolfsburg to stay amongst the title contenders while Hanover host Stuttgart.

- AFP/de

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