BERLIN (AP) — Bayer Leverkusen’s slump continued and its hopes of Champions League qualification took another blow Sunday in a 2-1 defeat at home to Freiburg in the Bundesliga.
Goals from Ermedin Demirović and Lucas Höler earned Freiburg its first win at the eighth attempt against Leverkusen and helped to propel the modest club to eighth place.
Leverkusen coach Peter Bosz made six changes from the side that exited the Europa League to Swiss team Young Boys on Thursday, handing goalkeeper Lennart Grill his Bundesliga debut. The changes had little effect as Bosz’s team slumped to its fifth defeat in 10 league games this year. Leverkusen won only two of those matches, while it was also knocked out of the German Cup by fourth-tier Rot-Weiss Essen on Feb. 2.
Leverkusen dominated the first half but was given a shock early in the second, when Höler skipped past two Leverkusen defenders and pulled the ball back for Demirović to open the scoring in the 50th.
More disorganized Leverkusen defending allowed Höler to score in the 61st, when a VAR check said he was onside for Vincenzo Grifo’s cross.
Leon Bailey went past a Freiburg defender before getting one goal back in the 70th, and the hosts pushed hard for the equalizer. Karim Bellarabi came closest — but not close enough — in injury time.
Sixth-place Leverkusen is five points behind Eintracht Frankfurt in the last spot for Champions League qualification with 11 rounds to play.
Max Kruse scored on his return for Union Berlin but couldn’t stop Hoffenheim fighting back to draw 1-1.
Kruse had been out with a thigh injury since the Berlin derby in December, and the former Germany forward made an immediate impact on his return by converting a penalty in the ninth minute for his seventh goal in 11 appearances.
The 32-year-old Kruse was involved in the buildup, too, crossing for Christopher Trimmel, who was fouled by Florian Grillitsch for the penalty.
The visitors regrouped and equalized through Nico Schlotterbeck’s own-goal under pressure from Ihlas Bebou in the 29th. Andrej Kramaric crossed the ball and goalkeeper Loris Karius’ attempted clearance rebounded in off his teammate’s shoulder.
Pavel Kaderabek thought he had scored a late winner for Hoffenheim but the goal was ruled out for offside after a VAR check.
Union remained seventh and Hoffenheim 11th after 23 rounds.
Mainz missed its chance to move out of the relegation zone when Augsburg ended its recent resurgence with a 1-0 defeat.
A mistake from goalkeeper Robin Zentner proved costly when it led to the game’s only goal in the 25th minute. Zentner’s attempted pass went straight to Augsburg’s Florian Niederlechner, who quickly sent the ball over to André Hahn to score.
With its three-game unbeaten run coming to an end, Mainz remained second-last, while Augsburg eased its relegation worries by moving eight points clear of the drop zone.
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