Keita stars as Leipzig trims Bayern lead

Naby Keita’s superb solo goal settled second-placed RB Leipzig's frantic 3-2 win at 10-man Mainz on Wednesday to trim Bayern Munich's lead to 10 points in the Bundesliga.

Mainz’s Jean-Philippe Gbamin and RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita in action during a Bundesliga match in Berlin on Wednesday.   -  REUTERS

 

Naby Keita’s superb solo goal settled second-placed RB Leipzig's frantic 3-2 win at 10-man Mainz on Wednesday to trim Bayern Munich's lead to 10 points in the Bundesliga.

After runaway leader Bayern had their 20-match unbeaten run ended by a 1-0 defeat at Hoffenheim on Tuesday, RB was made to work for the win at Mainz to narrow the gap. Striker Timo Werner, who made his Germany debut in last month's friendly win against England, and midfielder Marcel Sabitzer scored for Leipzig early in the second half.

Sweden’s Emil Forsberg assisted both goals including a deft backheel from a cross from which Sabitzer gave RB the lead on 48 minutes. Werner then added Leipzig's second, his 15th league goal this season, four minutes later when he got on the end of a Forsberg cross to leave the visitors in control at 2-0 up.

But Mainz sprang into life with 30 minutes to go as their Spanish midfielder Jairo converted a penalty on 69 minutes.

Mainz’s Levin Oztunali had the ball in the RB net again seconds later, but the effort was ruled offside.

Keita, who scored twice on his return at the weekend after suffering a circulatory collapse, then dribbled through the Mainz team and slotted home on 81 minutes.

However, in a frantic finish, Mainz had Jean-Philippe Gbamin sent off for a foul on Rani Khedira, brother of Germany star Sami, on 89 minutes. Japan's Yoshinori Muto then headed Mainz's second goal in the dying stages, but Leipzig held on.

The win keeps RB on course for a Champions League place next season, but Mainz are just above the relegation places. This was Mainz's fourth straight defeat to increase the pressure on coach Martin Schmidt.

Hertha Berlin's Champions League ambitions suffered another set-back as they crashed to a third straight defeat in losing 1-0 at Borussia Moenchengladbach. Gladbach's 19-year-old defensive midfielder Laszlo Benes gave the hosts an early lead and Thorgan Hazard hit the post in the second half in the hosts' deserved win.

Hertha are now sixth, 10 points from the Champions League places with seven games left, while Gladbach are ninth.

Bayer Leverkusen pulled away from the relegation mire to go 10th with a 2-0 win over bottom side Darmstadt thanks to goals by Germany pair Julian Brandt and Kevin Volland.

Wolfsburg, the 2009 champions, are now just a point from the relegation places after their 1-0 defeat to Freiburg thanks to striker Florian Niederlechner's second-half winner.

Ingolstadt, 17th in the table, boosted their survival chances with a 3-2 win at Augsburg to leave them just four points from safety as midfielder Almog Cohen scored twice.

RESULTS

Borussia Moenchengladbach 1 (Benes 16) Hertha Berlin 0

Mainz 2 (Jairo 69, Muto 89) RB Leipzig 3 (Sabitzer 48, Werner 52, Keita 81)

VfL Wolfsburg 0 Freiburg 1 (Niederlechner 78)

Augsburg 2 (Verhaegh 76-pen, Halil Altintop 82) Ingolstadt 3 (Kittel 24, Cohen 35, 67)

Darmstadt 0 Bayer Leverkusen 2 (Brandt 15, Volland 56)