Paco Alcacer’s stoppage-time brace fired Borussia Dortmund back to the top of the Bundesliga table on Saturday with a 2-0 victory over Wolfsburg, ahead of their title-race showdown with Bayern Munich next week.
Bayern coach Niko Kovac said that next Saturday’s clash with Dortmund is now a must-win game after his side were held to a 1-1 draw at Freiburg and slipped two points behind their title rivals.
“It is very frustrating because we had done so well to catch up with Dortmund, and now we have to start again,” Kovac told Sky.
“I assume my players know what is at stake next weekend. We have to win now.”
Dortmund survived a tough afternoon at Signal Iduna Park without captain Marco Reus before Alcacer snatched a dramatic victory.
Reus missed the game to be at the birth of his first child, and Dortmund toiled against Wolfsburg’s energetic pressing in his absence. Yet Alcacer’s starring role saw them reclaim top spot as Bayern slipped in the Black Forest.
“We always believed we were going to score” Dortmund’s Mario Goetze told Sky. “It wasn’t easy, and we were a bit fortunate, but it shows the quality we have.”
Bayern were left stunned when Freiburg took the lead after just three minutes.
Lucas Hoeler, who scored a late equaliser in Munich in November, towered over Mats Hummels to head in Christian Guenter’s cross.
Yet the champions hit back 20 minutes later, Robert Lewandowski hooking in the equaliser with an elegant finish. Lewandowski hit the post in added time but Bayern could not force a winner.
The two title contenders will to go head-to-head at the Allianz Arena next Saturday.
“We’re very happy that we are back on top, and it’s a good feeling to be flying to Munich as league leaders,” Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc told Sky.
– Gladbach in free fall –
Borussia Moenchengladbach suffered a fourth defeat in seven games as they were put to the sword by local rivals Fortuna Duesseldorf.
Duesseldorf’s Benito Raman tormented Gladbach from the wing early on, setting up two goals for Rouwen Hennings and one for Kevin Stoeger in the first quarter of an hour. Denis Zakaria then grabbed a late consolation goal for the visitors.
Having been hot on the heels of Bayern and Dortmund earlier in the season, Gladbach are now in free fall, and will drop out of the top four for the first time since September if Eintracht Frankfurt win on Sunday.
Goals from Mikael Ishak, Matheus Pereira and Eduard Loewen gave Nuremberg a ray of hope in the relegation fight as they battled to a 3-0 win over Augsburg.
Loewen sealed the win late on to give his team their first win in 21 games and bring them within four points of the relegation play-off place.
Elsewhere, Werder Bremen moved into the Europa League spots with a 3-1 win over Mainz.
Milot Rashica gave Bremen an early lead, and Max Kruse blasted in Bremen’s second on 36 minutes. Robin Quaison pulled one back for Mainz after half-time, but Kruse struck again shortly afterwards to restore Bremen’s two-goal lead.