BERLIN (AP) – Bayern Munich missed the chance to clinch the Bundesliga title when it lost at relegation-threatened Mainz 2-1 on Saturday.
First-half goals from Jonathan Burkardt and Robin Quaison put Bayern’s title celebrations on hold. They lifted Mainz five points clear of the relegation zone after a remarkable turnaround in the second half of the season.
Robert Lewandowski returned from a month out with a knee injury to score for Bayern in the fourth minute of injury time and take his season tally to 36, but it was too late for the eight-time defending champions.
This weekend, Bayern could still win the title, depending on how second-placed Leipzig fares against Stuttgart on Sunday. A Leipzig defeat would hand Bayern the title with three games to spare, but anything else means the Bavarian powerhouse will have to wait. Bayern hosts Borussia Mönchengladbach next weekend in the next opportunity to win the league.
Mainz forward Burkardt opened the scoring in the third minute when Bayern captain Manuel Neuer was deceived by his centrally placed shot.
Neuer reacted well to deny Mainz a second goal minutes later, then again in the 16th, a minute after Lewandowski had Bayern’s first chance.
But Quaison headed Mainz’s second goal in the 37th when he beat Thomas Müller and David Alaba to meet Phillipp Mwene’s free-kick.
Bayern coach Hansi Flick reacted with three changes at the break, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Jamal Musiala replacing the ineffective Leroy Sané, Kingsley Coman, and Tanguy Nianzou going on for Leon Goretzka. The latter was in danger of a second booking. Bayern came back from 2-0 down to win the reverse fixture 5-2 in Munich on Jan. 3, but Mainz is a different prospect since Bo Svensson took over as coach the following day. Mainz is unbeaten in seven games, with five wins in that run.
Erling Haaland scored twice for Borussia Dortmund to beat third-placed Wolfsburg 2-0 and pressure Eintracht Frankfurt ahead of its late-game at Bayer Leverkusen. Frankfurt is only a point forward of Dortmund in fourth, the last place for Champions League qualification.
In March, Finnish striker Joel Pohjanpalo celebrated his first start with a hat trick for Union Berlin to beat Werder Bremen 3-1 and stretch the visitors’ losing run to seven games.
Union also boosted its chances of Europa League football by cutting the gap on sixth-placed Leverkusen to just one point ahead of the late game.
Also, Freiburg drew with Hoffenheim 1-1.
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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP
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