Germany: Bundesliga
4 - 1
(2 - 1)
RB Leipzig
L. Openda (23), B. Šeško (45), M. Simakan (46), C. Baumgartner (80)
J. Sancho (20)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

15:30 Kickoffs: Leipzig hammer Dortmund, Bayern clinch top-four, Bremen and Wolfsburg deliver upset wins

A highly significant set of Bundesliga 15:30 kickoffs yielded plenty of surprises as the 2023/24 campaign draws to a close. A massive home victory for RB Leipzig over Borussia Dortmund opens up a five-point gap between the two in the race for the top-four. Bayern - with a big win of their own over Frankfurt - have officially clinched a top-four finish. 

Two European contenders, SC Freiburg and FC Augsburg, were upset at home by teams from the lower reaches of the table. Bremen's 3-0 win over Augsburg, unofficially but effectively, secures top-flight football for the Hanseaten next season. Wolfsburg's win over Freiburg gives Germany's green company team an excellent chance of surviving the drop as well. 

Marco Rose's German Red Bulls have taken all three points off Borussia Dortmund in a vitally important late-season fixture with enormous ramifications for the Champions' League race. A 4-1 victory over BVB at Red Bull Arena opens up a five-point-gap between fourth-place Leipzig and fifth-placed Dortmund with only three match days remaining. Edin Terzic's Schwarzgelben suddenly appear likely to finish outside the top-four, though the Westphalian club do remain alive in the current UCL competition. Dortmund welcome PSG in the first leg of of their semi-final tie on Wednesday. 

Rose made just one change to the XI that bested Heidenheim last week. Mohamed Simakan started over Benjamin Henrichs at right back. Terzic, on the other hand, employed wholesale changes to the side that he opened with in Sunday's 1-1 draw with Leverkusen. Ian Maatsen and Emré Can were unavailable due to suspension. The red-hot Marcel Sabitzeralso had to sit out with an infection he picked up over the week. Jamie Bynoe-Gittens - a healthy scratch - completed the quartet of players beginning on the bench. Marius Wolf, Felix Nmecha, Salih Özcan, and Karim Adeyemi moved in the XI. 

There were plenty of signs of sloppiness from the Westphalian guests in the opening 10 minutes. Fortunately for the BVB, a defensive error from Wolf went unpunished. At the other end of the pitch, Adeyemi made a hash out of a 3-vs-2 breakaway in the 7th. Dortmund were at least wide awake. RB keeper Peter Gulacsi only prevented Niclas Füllkrug from giving the guests the lead with a fabulous save in the 10th. Gulacsi made another great diving save on Julian Brandt in the 18th. Terzic's crew nevertheless eventually did fire one past the Saxon net minder in the 20th.

Gulacsi found himself helpless when Jadon Sancho curled a Wolf cross deflected into his direction by Dani Olmo. To their credit, the hosts didn't allow the early deficit to intimate them. Loïs Openda struck back immediately with a 23rd-minute equalizer. After a lengthy review process to check if assist-provider Xavi Simons was offside, the 1-1 was allowed to stand. Leipzig thought they had a chance to take some four minutes after that, but an a penalty awarded was withdrawn after another VAR check. 

Openda, Olmo, and Simons all had quality looks at goal until the second Leipzig goal finally came at 45+2. Capping off an immensely entertaining first-half, Benjamin knocked in the 2-1 just before it was time to head into the tunnel. The RB striker banged home a rebound from a Xaver Schlager tracer bullet Gregor Kobel spilled in front of him. Terzic attempted to interject some new life into his team at the break after 25 minutes of straight domination from the leading side. Marco Reus relieved the highly ineffective Adeyemi. 

Before Reus had a chance to do anything, however, Leipzig struck yet again. Less than a minute after the second half had kicked off, Dortmund were caught flat-footed following a long Schlager throw-in. Openda found himself free in the box with plenty of options against a stranded Kobel. The Belgian striker opted for Simakan, who easily slotted home the 46th-minute 3-1. Dortmund were regrettably not able to muster up much in terms of a response, with Xavi coming much closer to the goal than anyone in yellow as the hour-mark approached. 

Reus and Füllkrug came closest to getting Dortmund back into the match with half-chances that lacked the proper finishing touch. RB sub Christoph Baumgartner eventually slammed the door shut with the 4-1 in the 80th. Henrichs - on for the injured Simakan - was accorded far too much space on the right flank. Baumgartner had little difficulty polishing off Henrichs' cross to close the game out. 

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga's 15:30 kickoffs, German record champions FC Bayern were able to exact revenge upon Eintracht Frankfurt for the 1-5 shellacking they received earlier this year. Thomas Tuchel's Bavarians prevailed 2-1 over Dino Toppmöller's SGE at home via a Harry Kane brace. Bayern now move six points clear of Stuttgart - who play Leverkusen later this evening - in the battle for second place. 

Two teams with hopes of potentially overtaking Frankfurt in the race for the second Europa League slot unfortunately saw their hopes dashed by bottom-table sides. SC Freiburg and FC Augsburg both dropped home fixtures against VfL Wolfsburg and SV Werder Bremen, respectively. Ralph Hasenhüttl's German Wolves (34 points) and Ole Werner's Hanseaten (37 points) put important distance between themselves and the relegation pack with the wins. 


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