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Van Gaal awaits fate as Bayern lose again

Louis van Gaal's tenure as Bayern Munich coach was on a knife-edge Saturday after the German giants lost 3-1 to Hannover and his chairman lambasted the team's performance as a "low point."

Van Gaal awaits fate as Bayern lose again
Photo: DPA

This third consecutive defeat left Bayern in fourth place in the league, seven points shy of second place and automatic Champions League qualification and a full 19 points behind runaway leaders Borussia Dortmund.

Van Gaal had already indicated that defeat to Hannover could cost him his job but prevaricating when asked afterwards about his future, saying only: “I am not in a position to answer this question.”

“I have always had the support of my board. They decide whether to withdraw this support, not me.”

The chairman of that board, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, said the result and the manner of the defeat was “the low point of the season” but said he would not take a knee-jerk reaction.

“Of course we are all disappointed, but I think we have all been around long enough to know that after such a game, you need to have a night’s sleep before you consider what to do.”

To add insult to injury, Bayern were forced to play the last 18 minutes with 10 men after Brazilian defender Breno saw red for lashing out petulantly after losing the ball.

The home side took the lead on 16 minutes, as Norwegian striker Mohammed Abdellaoue latched on to an inch-perfect cross from Konstantin Rausch after a break down the left and lashed it past a helpless Thomas Kraft.

Bayern looked woefully short on confidence and barely threatened the Hannover goal in the first half, a scuffed and easily saved Arjen Robben free-kick summing up their fortunes.

And whatever van Gaal said at half-time, it had little effect as the defending champions found themselves two down after 51 minutes.

Rausch again was the architect of Bayern’s downfall, drilling a piledriver of a shot towards the Bayern goal that took a slight deflection off the head of the luckless Gomez.

Bayern hit back almost instantly through their star combination of Robben and French midfielder Franck Ribery. After a goalmouth scramble, the Frenchman lifted a cross over the defence for Robben to head home.

But midfielder Sergio Pinto sealed Bayern’s fate with a 30-yard shot on 62 minutes that Kraft failed to gather, the ball evading his grasp and dribbling into the net.

Before the Hanover game, the German giants had endured a torrid few weeks in which their dreams of repeating last season’s league and cup double were cruelly smashed.

First they suffered the humiliation of losing 3-1 at home to Dortmund, then four days later, they were dumped out of the German Cup thanks to a 1-0 semi-final defeat to Schalke.

Hugely off the pace in the league, their hopes of salvaging the season lie in securing second place as well as in the Champions League itself where they hold a 1-0 lead over Inter Milan.

Meanwhile, Dortmund took a huge step towards their first Bundesliga crown since 2002 with a 1-0 win over Cologne on Friday night.

Poland striker Robert Lewandowski’s 44th-minute strike proved enough to give Jürgen Klopp’s side their 19th win of the season from 25 games as they cruise towards the title.

Bayer Leverkusen, who apparently dropped former Germany captain Michael Ballack despite an injury crisis in midfield, lead the chasing pack, their 3-0 hammering of VfL Wolfsburg closing the gap to 12 points.

At the other end of the table, the two bottom clubs both won, VfB Stuttgart beating ten-man Schalke 1-0 and bottom side Borussia Mönchengladbach giving themselves some hope with a 2-0 win over mid-table Hoffenheim.

The relegation dogfight between Eintracht Frankfurt and Kaiserslautern, delayed after crowd violence, ended 0-0.

Meanwhile, four goals by German striker Christian Eigler was enough to secure three points for Nuremberg in their mid-table clash with St. Pauli.

AFP/bk

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MUNICH

Four injured as WWII bomb explodes near Munich train station

Four people were injured, one of them seriously, when a World War II bomb exploded at a building site near Munich's main train station on Wednesday, emergency services said.

Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich.
Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Privat

Construction workers had been drilling into the ground when the bomb exploded, a spokesman for the fire department said in a statement.

The blast was heard several kilometres away and scattered debris hundreds of metres, according to local media reports.

Images showed a plume of smoke rising directly next to the train tracks.

Bavaria interior minister Joachim Herrmann told Bild that the whole area was being searched.

Deutsche Bahn suspended its services on the affected lines in the afternoon.

Although trains started up again from 3pm, the rail operator said there would still be delays and cancellations to long-distance and local travel in the Munich area until evening. 

According to the fire service, the explosion happened near a bridge that must be passed by all trains travelling to or from the station.

The exact cause of the explosion is unclear, police said. So far, there are no indications of a criminal act.

WWII bombs are common in Germany

Some 75 years after the war, Germany remains littered with unexploded ordnance, often uncovered during construction work.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about WWII bomb disposals in Germany

However, most bombs are defused by experts before they explode.

Last year, seven World War II bombs were found on the future location of Tesla’s first European factory, just outside Berlin.

Sizeable bombs were also defused in Cologne and Dortmund last year.

In 2017, the discovery of a 1.4-tonne bomb in Frankfurt prompted the evacuation of 65,000 people — the largest such operation since the end of the war in Europe in 1945.

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