Franck Ribery fired Bayern Munich to within six points of Bundesliga leader Borussia Dortmund with a late 1-0 win over Leipzig on Wednesday. The veteran French winger, a Dortmund tormentor over the years, struck another blow against his old rival by scoring in the 83rd minute when it seemed Bayern would have to settle for a draw in Munich.
“He was there where we needed him. Thank you Franck,” Bayern midfielder Thomas Mueller said.
Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi saved Renato Sanches’ initial effort and Dayot Upamecano could only half clear. Ribery stopped the ball, dragged it with his left foot to leave two defenders sliding, and then fired it in with his right.
Bayern’s relief was evident as the players celebrated closing the gap on Dortmund, which slipped to its first defeat at Fortuna Duesseldorf on Tuesday.
Both teams finished with 10 men after a bad challenge from Stefan Ilsanker on Thiago Alcantara in injury time. Ilsanker was shown a red card and Sanches a second yellow card for pushing the Leipzig midfielder in reaction to the foul.
Bayern remained third, behind Borussia Moenchengladbach on goal difference, ahead of the last round of games before the winter break. Leipzig stayed fourth, now five points behind Bayern.
HAJI OFF THE MARK
American forward Haji Wright’s first Bundesliga goal was not enough to save Schalke from a 2-1 loss that gave Bayer Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich a lifeline.
Herrlich was under pressure after Leverkusen’s defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.
Instead it is the home side’s coach, Domenico Tedesco, who must fret over his future after his team was whistled off by its own fans at full time. Schalke dropped to 14th, one point above the relegation zone.
Leverkusen was reportedly already in touch with former Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Bosz and Salzburg coach Marco Rose as potential successors for Herrlich after a lackluster season so far.
Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voeller was noncommittal when asked about his coach’s future before kickoff in Gelsenkirchen.
But Herrlich, who took over before last season, was given some respite after first-half goals from Aleksandar Dragovic and Lucas Alario.
The 20-year-old Wright also scored before the break, set up by compatriot Weston McKennie, but Leverkusen held out for its sixth win in 16 games.
Also Wednesday, Werder Bremen came back to draw with Hoffenheim 1-1, Hannover climbed off the bottom with a 1-1 draw at Freiburg, and Eintracht Frankfurt forward Luka Jovic scored twice to take his league tally to 12 in a 2-2 draw with Mainz.