BERLIN (Reuters) – Five talking points from the weekend’s Bundesliga matches as Borussia Dortmund won 2-1 at Schalke to stay seven points clear at the top.
Mainz forward Jean-Philippe Mateta denied that he dived to win a late penalty which allowed his side to grab a 1-1 draw at home to Hanover 96.
The Frenchman went down under a challenge from Hanover’s Matthias Ostrzolek and Daniel Brosinski converted amid furious Hanover protests.
There were conflicting versions as Ostrzolek told reporters that Mateta had admitted to diving.
“He said it himself, he said it to us, the players, but not the referee,” Ostrzolek said. “I told him he should go the referee and tell him the truth.”
But Mateta replied: “It wasn’t a dive. I was knocked while I was running. I cannot apologise for a dive which did not exist.”
Hanover coach Andre Breitenreiter was baffled because the referee did not consult the VAR officials, who are based in a studio in Cologne.
“There was no contact, I don’t understand the referee…why he doesn’t ask the player or get a signal from Cologne?” he said.
“If they can’t recognise that was a dive, we might as well pack up an can get rid of the VAR…. We are furious, we are frustrated.”
After much tinkering, Bayern Munich coach Niko Kovac appears to have found his ideal line-up.
For the first time since taking over this season, Kovac named an unchanged starting 11 for the match against Nuremberg and was rewarded with a convincing 3-0 win.
They key was the decision to move Joshua Kimmich from right back to his preferred role in midfield, in front of the defence, where he lined up alongside Leon Goretzka.
“We complement each other quite well on the pitch and we played together in at under 21 level, we’ve known each other for a long time,” Kimmich said.
With Serge Gnabry, Thomas Mueller and Franck Ribery ahead of them, and Robert Lewandowski, Bayern appear to have clicked.
“The team has found itself” said sporting director Hasam Salihamidzic.
American Josh Sargent had an extraordinary Bundesliga debut when he scored with his first touch for Werder Bremen in their 3-3 draw with Fortuna Duesseldorf.
The 18-year-old, a full international who has scored twice in six appearances, was brought on in the 76th minute and needed 86 seconds to hit the back of the net and complete a 3-1 win.
“It’s not the beginning of being in the starting eleven or even the squad every week. We do it step-by-step and I’m glad that he’s patient as well,” said coach Florian Kohfeldt. “We can celebrate now and then we restart training.
Borussia Dortmund’s 18-year-old forward Jadon Sancho continued his remarkable season by becoming the first English player to scorer in the Ruhr derby against Schalke 04.
He also became the youngest player to score in the fixture, a record previously hold by Lars Ricken who netted for Dortmund at the age of 19 in 1995.
“The goal means everything to my family,” Sancho told the Bundesliga’s website. “Sadly my grandmother passed away, so that goal was for her.”
“It was a very difficult week for him,” said Dortmund coach Lucien Favre. “He only flew back from London on Friday, but he really wanted to train and play.”
Freiburg’s 3-0 win over fourth-placed Leipzig was their biggest in the Bundesliga for four seasons and lifted the team from the Black Forest six points clear of the relegation zone.
Nils Petersen’s opening goal was the striker’s 37th Bundesliga goal for Freiburg, equalling Papiss Cisse’s club record.
One of the smallest clubs in the Bundesliga, Freiburg habitually face an uphill battle to keep their place in the top flight and coach Christian Streich has performed wonders with limited resources during his seven years in charge.
(Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond)