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Hertha hold Leipzig; Schalke’s crisis deepens

Berlin, May 27 (efe-epa).- Hertha Berlin got a late equalizer to draw 2-2 with RB Leipzig on Wednesday and spoil the hosts’ bid to grab a share of second in the Bundesliga, while Schalke’s skid continued with a 2-1 loss to 16th-place Fortuna Düsseldorf.

The Red Bulls started the contest with a chance to pull level with Borussia Dortmund after the Ruhr side fell 1-0 to Bayern Munich in Tuesday’s Klassiker.

Instead, Leipzig remain third with 55 points, 2 behind Dortmund and 9 fewer than league leaders Bayern. Hertha sit 10th on 35 points.

The visitors from the capital stunned Leipzig by taking a 1-0 lead in the 9th minute, when Markus Grujic scored off a corner by Marvin Plattenhardt.

Hertha were likewise impressive on defense, denying Leipzig’s skill players the time and space to create chances.

And the home side’s first goal came on a set piece, as Lukas Klostermann headed-in Nkuku’s corner at the near post in the 24th minute.

The score was still 1-1 when Leipzig went down to 10 men in the 63rd minute with the expulsion of Marcel Halstenburg after the defender picked up his second yellow card of the game for a foul against Matheus Cunha.

Just five minutes later, however, Leipzig surged ahead 2-1 on Patrik Schick’s goal.

The advantage held up until Leipzig’s Ademola Lookman brought down Cunha in the area and the referee awarded a penalty. Krzysztof Piatek converted to make it 2-2.

While Hertha went into overdrive in pursuit of a match-winner, Leipzig concentrated on defending the point.

Fortuna, who have spent most of this pandemic-disrupted season in the drop zone, are now undefeated in three games since action resumed on May 16 more than two months after the Bundesliga halted play.

The Düsseldorf club’s sixth win of the campaign came at the expense of Schalke, who took 32 of 48 possible points in their first 16 matches but whose most recent victory in the Bundesliga was in January.

Losers in both of their games since the restart, Schalke took cautious approach in Düsseldorf and managed to reach the hour mark up 1-0 courtesy of a Weston McKennie header in the 53rd minute.

But the tactic of largely conceding possession to the hosts ultimately proved disastrous.

Rouwen Hennings brought Fortuna level in the 63rd minute with his head after visiting goalkeeper Markus Schubert parried a free kick. What proved to be the winning goal came five minutes later, when Kenan Karaman scored off a corner.

Fortuna climbed to 27 points, just 1 behind Mainz in 15th. Schalke, stuck on 37 points, are ninth and look unlikely to qualify for one of the Europa League slots.

Hoffenheim took advantage of Schalke’s continuing woes to vault into seventh place with a 3-1 home win over FC Köln, who played more than two-thirds of the match with 10 men.

The hosts led 1-0 at the half on a goal by Christoph Baumgarnter in the 11th minute and Köln lost Sebastiaan Bornauw on a straight red card in the 26th.

Baumgartner scored again in the first minute of the second half and Steven Zuber added a third goal for Hoffenheim two minutes later.

The rout appeared to be on, but Hoffenheim’s Benjamin Hübner was sent off in the 50th minute for his second yellow card and Florian Kainz clawed one back for the visitors 10 minutes later.

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