Freiburg enters winter break in third after beating Leverkusen

Freiburg's Vincenzo Grifo celebrates after his penalty goal during the Bundesliga soccer match between SC Freiburg and Bayer Leverkusen in Freiburg, Germany, Sunday, Dec. 19, 2021. (Philipp von Ditfurth/dpa via AP)

BERLIN — Substitute Kevin Schade scored late as Freiburg beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 on Sunday to leapfrog the visitors and move into third place ahead of the Bundesliga’s winter break.

Freiburg profited from some lax defending in the 84th minute as Ermedin Demirovic was able to cross without pressure and Schade nipped ahead of his marker to beat Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukáš Hrádecký at the near post.

Freiburg’s Vincenzo Grifo opened the scoring with a penalty before Charles Aranguiz equalized in first-half injury time for Leverkusen.

Freiburg has a one-point lead over fourth-place Leverkusen and Hoffenheim.

The loss is just the latest blow to Leverkusen’s fading title ambitions after three Bundesliga games without a win. Gerardo Seoane’s team had given away two-goal leads in both of its previous games, and the defensive frailty was again at fault in Freiburg.

Freiburg was not expected to finish the first half of the season in third place. The club has one of the smallest budgets in the league and regularly loses its best players to bigger rivals after every successful season. Christian Streich, the longest serving coach in the Bundesliga, has had to rebuild the team on multiple occasions.

Cologne hosted Stuttgart later Sunday in the last game before the winter break.

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