BERLIN: Austria striker Sasa Kalajdzic dampened spirits at Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga title party on Sunday as Stuttgart held the champions to a 2-2 draw to keep their own survival hopes alive. Bayern were presented with the Bundesliga trophy in front of their own fans, but Kalajdzic’s second-half equaliser means they have failed to win in the two games since claiming a tenth successive title last month.
Bayern’s players had already faced criticism for their decision to take a two-day team holiday to Ibiza ahead of last week’s defeat to Mainz, and they delivered another under-par performance against the relegation candidates. “They deserve to be champions and they won’t care too much about the draw today, but it could be an extremely important result for us,” Kalajdzic told DAZN. Four points adrift of safety at kick-off, the visitors needed a result and burst out of the blocks in the first half. Omar Marmoush missed an early chance to take the lead on the counter-attack before Tiago Tomas smashed in a brilliant shot to stun the home fans.
Thomas Mueller hit the bar for Bayern at the other end, and was later denied by a flying save from Florian Mueller. Serge Gnabry finally broke through Stuttgart’s defense on 35 minutes, lashing in a shot from a tight angle via defender Konstantinos Mavropanos. Mueller put Bayern ahead just before half time, prodding the ball home after an elegant pirouette in the box. Yet the visitors fought back after the break when Borna Sosa picked out Kalajdzic with a looping cross to level the scores at 2-2.
Both sides had chances to win the game late on, and Bayern’s disappointing evening was crowned when Kingsley Coman was sent off in stoppage time. “I think a draw was a fair result. We played with a lot of courage today, and we got a bit of luck too,” said Kalajdzic. Stuttgart remain three points adrift of safety in the relegation play-off place, but could still overtake Hertha Berlin on the last day of the season due to superior goal difference.
Leipzig return to top four
Elsewhere, RB Leipzig shook off their Europa League blues by taking a huge step towards Champions League qualification with a 4-0 win over Augsburg. After a bitter semi-final defeat to Rangers in midweek, Leipzig cruised to a thumping win at home to pull two points clear of Freiburg in fourth.
Andre Silva curled in his 11th goal of the season to open the scoring at the end of a cagey first half. Christopher Nkunku turned in a Nordi Mukiele cross to double the lead after the break, and the two Frenchmen linked up again for Leipzig’s third just a few minutes later. Any hope of a miraculous Augsburg comeback was buried just after the hour mark when Emil Forsberg converted a penalty to make it 4-0.
“It’s been a very difficult and emotional few days, so we are going to enjoy today,” said Silva. Europa League finalists Eintracht Frankfurt also returned to Bundesliga action on Sunday with a 1-1 draw at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach. Goncalo Paciencia’s 25-metre screamer was the high point as the two mid-table sides shared the points in an entertaining dead rubber just days after Frankfurt’s semi-final victory over West Ham.
French striker Alassane Plea gave Gladbach the lead after just four minutes when he turned in Jonas Hofmann’s low cross after a sharp passing move from the visitors. Paciencia equalized for the hosts in breathtaking style on 66 minutes, catching Gladbach keeper Tobias Sippel off guard with a net-busting long-range effort. Daichi Kamada thought he had snatched a late winner for the hosts when he turned in a corner on 89 minutes, but the goal was ruled out for offside. – AFP