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FOOTBALL

Bayern ‘should say sorry’ for third loss

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Michael Rensing said his side owed their fans an apology after slumping to their third loss in four league games on Saturday with a 2-1 defeat by Cologne.

Bayern 'should say sorry' for third loss
Really, really sorry - Rensing Photo:DPA

Bayern found themselves 2-0 down to a mediocre Cologne side at half-time in the Munich Allianz Arena and although Belgian defender Daniel van Buyten pulled a goal back towards the end of the match, it was not enough.

Bayern have now lost to Hamburg, Hertha Berlin and Cologne in their last four league games and could drop to fifth in the table on Sunday if Bayer Leverkusen beat Hamburg.

“I believe that after today we must apologise to all our fans for this defeat,” said Rensing, who said last week he was “fed up to the back teeth” with his defenders.

“The first half time was inexplicably bad, Cologne could have won by more. Today was one of those days when nothing went right. We didn’t deserve a point, never mind a win. If we had not acted so stupidly, we would already be top of the league; that is irritating.”

First-half goals by Cologne’s French midfielder Fabrice Ehret and teenage debutant Daniel Brosinski meant the guests were 2-0 up at half-time and never looked like losing.

It was hardly the ideal warm-up for Bayern’s Champions League Round of 16, first-leg tie on Wednesday against Sporting Lisbon in Portugal and chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said it was a bad day at the office.

“Until today, we had played well even in our defeats at Hamburg and Hertha, but today for the first time we played badly,” he said.

“We need to get out of this rut very quickly, starting with Wednesday’s game in Lisbon.”

Germany striker Lukas Podolski, making his first start after three months on the sidelines, lasted just 45 minutes before he was substituted.

Podolski was voted the best young player at the last World Cup and will re-join Cologne in the summer. He said anyone of the Bayern team could have been taken off.

“We didn’t play well and Cologne deserved the victory,” he said.

“It wasn’t just any old Bundesliga fixture for me. I tried my best, but I didn’t play well. I accept being substituted at half-time. Any of us could have been substituted, it was not a good afternoon.”

Hertha Berlin lost the top spot of the table on Saturday when they were beaten 2-1 at Wolfsburg, who remains unbeaten at home this season.

A goal from Brazilian Cicero was cancelled out by the two second-half strikes from Wolfsburg’s Edin Dzeko to put Berlin down to second.

“We are, of course, very disappointed, because we could have taken at least a point,” said Hertha coach Lucien Favre.

“In the second-half, we were actually the better team and we made Wolfsburg look strong, so it’s hard to accept this defeat.”

Hoffenheim went back to the top after a battle royal at Stuttgart as Senegal striker Demba Ba hit a hat-trick which was cancelled out by strikes from Cacau and a pair by Germany forward Mario Gomez, bringing the final score to 3-3.

“The spectators certainly got their money’s worth today,” said Hoffenheim coach Ralf Rangnick.

“It was an intense game which would we could have won, albeit unexpectedly. Mario Gomez was impressive today, so we can live with 3-3.”

FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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