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Leipzig beats Hertha Berlin 2-0 to reclaim Bundesliga lead

/ 01:22 AM December 18, 2016
Julian Schieber and Fernandes da Silva - Bundesliga - 17 Dec 2016

Berlin’s Julian Schieber, top, and Leipzig’s Fernandes da Silva, bottom, challenge for the ball during the German Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and Hertha BSC Berlin in Leipzig, Germany, Saturday, Dec. 17, 2016. (Photo by MICHAEL SOHN/AP)

BERLIN — Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz watched from the stands as his Leipzig side returned to the top of the Bundesliga with a 2-0 win over visiting Hertha Berlin on Saturday.

Mateschitz, who made his fortune through energy drink Red Bull, made a rare visit to the stadium to see the side before its clash with defending champion Bayern Munich on Wednesday. Bayern, three points behind Leipzig, still had to play its 15th-round game at Darmstadt on Sunday.

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Leipzig started strongly and had Hertha’s defense under pressure from the off.

The home side needed patience, however, before Timo Werner finally made the breakthrough four minutes before the break. Naby Keita played the 20-year-old Werner through to elude two Hertha defenders and fire inside the far post.

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Defender Willi Orban headed in the second from a corner after an hour played.

Hertha, outplayed for most of the game, dropped to fourth after its second successive loss.

It was the first eastern derby between the sides, though neither is from the former East Germany, with Hertha based in West Berlin and Leipzig founded only in 2009 when Mateschitz bought a local fifth-tier team, SSV Markranstaedt, and rebranded it with the company’s livery under a new name, before financing its steady promotion through the lower leagues.

Mainz 3, Hamburger SV 1

Mainz had an unlikely hat trick artist to thank for lifting the side to ninth and leaving Hamburg in the relegation zone.

Forward Bobby Wood fired Hamburg ahead in the 21st minute with a fine strike inside the near post.

It should have been 2-0 minutes later when Nicolai Mueller chipped the goalkeeper and saw his effort come back off the crossbar. He just had to tap in the rebound but Alexander Hack got in the clear at the last moment.

The visitors were left to rue the missed chance when Danny Latza equalized with a flat shot inside the left post after a botched clearance from Douglas Santos.

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Latza followed up his first Bundesliga goal with his second early in the second half, almost a carbon copy after Hamburg again failed to clear.

The Mainz midfielder wrapped up what must have been an unexpected hat trick with another fine strike under the crossbar with just over 20 minutes remaining.

Augsburg 1, Borussia Moenchengladbach 0

Following the sacking of Dirk Schuster on Wednesday, interim coach Manuel Baum celebrated his first game in charge of Augsburg with a win that lifted the side over ’Gladbach in the table.

Martin Hinteregger’s 75th-minute header from a corner was enough to deal Andre Schubert’s side its seventh defeat and increase the pressure again on the ‘Gladbach coach.

’Gladbach was 13th in the 18-team Bundesliga.

Other games

Schalke and Cologne had to settle for 1-1 draws after tough encounters.

Cologne forward Artjoms Rudnevs fired his side ahead midway through the first half at Werder Bremen, but Serge Gnabry equalized against the run of play with a speculative shot five minutes before the interval.

Freiburg’s Florian Niederlechner shocked the home fans in Gelsenkirchen by grabbing the opener after more than an hour played. Yevhen Konoplyanka salvaged a draw with a header to Abdul Rahman Baba’s cross for his first Bundesliga goal.

Schalke was missing the likes of Breel Embolo, Klaas Jan Huntelaar, Franco Di Santo and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting through injury.

Crisis-hit Wolfsburg was to host Eintracht Frankfurt for the late game.

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TAGS: Bundesliga, Hertha Berlin, Leipzig
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