Leipzig back on top, Hertha wins first game without Klinsmann

Leipzig's Patrik Schick, left, plays the ball during the German Bundesliga soccer match RB Leipzig against SV Werder Bremen in Leipzig, Germany, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020. (Robert Michael/dpa via AP)

BERLIN — Leipzig reclaimed the Bundesliga’s top spot with a 3-0 win over struggling Werder Bremen, and Matheus Cunha scored on his Hertha Berlin debut to help his new side end a difficult week on a bright note Saturday.

Cunha, who joined Hertha from Leipzig in the winter transfer window, claimed the visitors’ second goal for a 2-1 win at last-place Paderborn, four days after Hertha was shocked by Jurgen Klinsmann’s abrupt resignation as coach.

Leipzig used set pieces to great effect against Bremen, which endured its fourth straight league defeat. Lukas Klostermann opened the scoring in the 18th minute after Patrik Schick helped on a free kick, and Dani Olmo set up Schick for the second goal off a corner in the 39th.

Nordi Mukiele made it 3-0 seconds after the restart to help Leipzig open a two-point lead over Bayern Munich, which can reclaim top spot on Sunday with a win at Cologne. Bayern is one point ahead of Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach.

HERTHA RELIEF

Hertha spent the days since Klinsmann’s announcement trying to avert talk of crisis, and the first win under interim coach Alexander Nouri lifts it nine points above the relegation zone.

Nouri put Cunha up front and made three other changes to the side that lost 3-1 at home to Mainz last weekend. The 20-year-old Cunha was one of four January signings for Hertha and playing for the first time since helping Brazil’s under-23 side qualify for the Olympics with two goals in its 3-0 win over Argentina.

Dedryck Boyata put Hertha 1-0 up against the run of play in the 10th minute, eight minutes before Cunha had a goal ruled out through VAR.

Hertha goalkeeper Rune Jarstein deflected an effort from Dennis Srbeny inside his own net early in the second half, but Cunha grabbed the winner in the 67th.

"A huge compliment to the team after all the upheaval," Nouri said.

LUCKY LEVERKUSEN

Karim Bellarabi scored in injury time for Bayer Leverkusen to grab a somewhat fortunate 3-2 win at Union Berlin, where the second half was interrupted due to visiting fans setting off flares.

The supporters ignored several requests to stop. Even Leverkusen captain Lars Bender’s appeals went unheeded.

The game resumed, and so did the pyrotechnics. This time, there were no more appeals to stop.

Neither side could settle until Kevin Volland set up Moussa Diaby with a brilliant chip to make it 2-1 to Leverkusen in the 83rd.

Marius Bulter equalized with a brilliant strike in the 87th, but Bellarabi ensured Leverkusen claimed a second consecutive late win.

"I think Union Berlin deserved more," Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz acknowledged.

PENALTIES GALORE

Wout Weghorst scored a hat trick for Wolfsburg to win 3-2 at Hoffenheim. The Dutch striker scored two penalties and gave away another.

Gladbach defended fourth place with a 4-1 win at Rhine rival Fortuna Dusseldorf in the late game. Lars Stindl scored twice for the visitors to stay level on 42 points with Dortmund. Gladbach has a game in hand on Dortmund

Also, Freiburg drew at Augsburg 1-1.

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