BERLIN (AP) — Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund warmed up for what is sure to be their quietest ever Bundesliga clash by winning their respective games on Saturday.
In stadiums with no spectators due to strict hygiene measures against the coronavirus, Bayern routed Eintracht Frankfurt 5-2 after Dortmund laid down the challenge with a labored 2-0 win at Wolfsburg.
Goals from Leon Goretzka, Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski had Bayern in cruise control but Frankfurt defender Martin Hinteregger scored twice in three minutes to set up an exciting finale.
Alphonso Davies steadied Bayern’s nerves before Hinteregger’s own goal capped a remarkable game for the center back.
“It was one of the nicest own goals I scored,” Hinteregger joked.
The win kept Bayern four points ahead of Dortmund ahead of their meeting on Tuesday, a game that will go a long way to deciding the championship – assuming the remaining seven rounds go ahead.
The league resumed last weekend after its pandemic-induced two-month break and players must undergo regular testing for COVID-19 before they are cleared to play.
Like last weekend, players wore face masks on arrival for all games on Saturday, while those who didn’t start kept them on and maintained their distance. Balls were disinfected, and officials conducted pregame interviews at a distance with microphones mounted on poles to keep TV reporters at bay.
The German football federation (DFB) sent a letter to the clubs during the week warning them that society and politicians were watching closely after some criticism of goal celebrations that went too far the previous weekend.
Hertha Berlin players celebrated freely in their 3-0 win at Hoffenheim last week, but made a point of refraining in the 4-0 derby win over Union Berlin on Friday.
The DFB said local health authorities could consider TV images when deciding on imposing quarantine measures on teams in case of a positive result for COVID-19.
Dortmund struggled to impose itself against Wolfsburg but scored with its first real chance through Guerreiro in the 32nd minute. Julian Brandt cleverly played in Hakimi, who sent Thorgan Hazard through. Hazard cut the ball back for Erling Haaland –- who missed it -– but Guerreiro was there to sweep the ball to the net.
Dortmund defender Mats Hummels went off at the break.
“Mats has problems with his Achilles tendon. We hope that he can play on Tuesday,” Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said.
Renato Steffen hit the crossbar with Wolfsburg’s closest chance right after the break, when the home side dominated.
But Wolfsburg was caught on a counterattack led by Jadon Sancho in the 78th, when Hakimi fired in the far corner.
Wolfsburg’s Felix Klaus was sent off minutes later with the help of VAR after catching Manuel Akanji’s calf from behind. He looked dismayed to be sent off, but left the field without protest.
Zorc confirmed before the game that Mario Götze will leave once his second spell at the club ends in the summer.
Borussia Mönchengladbach was silently cheered on by 13,000 plastic cutout fans in the stands, but couldn’t help slumping against Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 at home.
Two goals from Kai Havertz, the second a penalty confirmed by VAR, and another from Sven Bender lifted Leverkusen above Gladbach into fourth place, Germany’s last to qualify for the Champions League — assuming Leipzig beats Mainz on Sunday.
As well as the cutouts of real supporters, Gladbach’s stands were adorned with banners protesting against games without spectators.
Also, Werder Bremen held on for a 1-0 win over Freiburg, which had a late equalizer ruled out through VAR after Bremen midfielder Philipp Bargfrede was sent off, and last-place Paderborn drew with Hoffenheim 1-1.
Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP