Dortmund, Wolfsburg secure Champions League spots
BERLIN (AP) — Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg clinched Champions League qualification on Sunday, while Hamburger SV’s hopes of rejoining the Bundesliga were put on hold for another year.
Dortmund won 3-1 at Mainz and Wolfsburg drew 2-2 at Leipzig to ensure both sides will finish among the top four to qualify for Europe’s top club competition. Leipzig, which secured second place behind league champion Bayern Munich, was already assured of playing in the Champions League next season.
Leipzig looked tired in its first game after losing the German Cup final to Dortmund on Thursday, but fought back with goals from Justin Kluivert and a penalty from Marcel Sabitzer after Maximilian Philipp scored two fine goals in the first half for Wolfsburg.
Dortmund’s Raphael Guerreiro opened the scoring in Mainz in the 23rd minute, Marco Reus converted from close range in the 42nd, and substitute Julian Brandt sealed the visitors’ win in the 80th.
“This year was a huge effort. We had to fight so much,” said Reus, the Dortmund captain, about a season in which Lucien Favre was fired as coach.
Eintracht Frankfurt looked set to qualify when it was leading Dortmund by seven points with six rounds remaining, but the team slumped once coach Adi Hütter announced he was leaving for Borussia Mönchengladbach next season. Frankfurt’s 4-3 loss at already-relegated Schalke on Saturday was its third defeat in five games.
“It was sensational how we came back,” Reus said.
Dortmund’s win on Sunday was its sixth straight, and it lifted coach Edin Terzić’s side into third place, ahead of Wolfsburg on goal difference.
Terzić praised his players for making the “seemingly impossible possible.”
A strong thunderstorm storm delayed the second half after a first half to forget for Mainz. Mainz, which was previously second-last and a strong candidate for relegation, was unbeaten in nine games under new coach Bo Svensson and it clinched survival through others’ results on Saturday.
It seemed the celebrations took their toll.
“No question, we can do better,” Mainz sports director Christian Heidel said at halftime.
Mainz was much improved for the second half but Erling Haaland set up Brandt for his third goal of the season before Robin Quaison got the home side’s consolation with a penalty in injury time.
HAMBURG DENIED AGAIN
In Germany’s second division, former Bundesliga heavyweight Hamburg lost 3-2 in Osnabrück to end its promotion hopes for the third successive year. Hamburg dropped to fifth and can no longer finish in the top three.
“You have to say, we wouldn’t have deserved it,” Hamburg’s interim coach Horst Hrubesch said. “It wasn’t enough. If you go into a game like that, you simply have to do more.”
Bochum, Holstein Kiel or Greuther Fürth are seeking to secure automatic qualification as the top two from the final round of games next Sunday, while the other will finish third for a two-leg playoff against the team that finishes third from bottom in the Bundesliga on Saturday.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP