BERLIN: A late equaliser from Erling Braut Haaland spared Borussia Dortmund’s blushes on Saturday as both they and Bayer Leverkusen dropped points in the race for the top four.
Haaland’s 81st-minute strike saved a 2-2 draw at home to Hoffenheim and averted a fourth defeat in five Bundesliga games for crisis-hit Dortmund.
Yet even a draw leaves Dortmund three points adrift of the Champions League places in sixth, and heaps more pressure on interim coach Edin Terzic.
Dortmund have won just four of ten league games since Terzic took the reins from Lucien Favre in December, prompting growing speculation over his future.
Yet veteran defender Mats Hummels defended his coach on Saturday and backed Dortmund to revive their season.
“It’s never the case that things are exactly how you want them a few weeks after a new coach takes over. That wasn’t the case years ago under Jurgen Klopp, and it isn’t the case now under Edin,” Hummels told Sky.
“We’re working hard, and success will come,” he added.
England international Jadon Sancho gave Dortmund a perfect start, racing up the leftwing to score his fourth league goal this season on 24 minutes.
The lead didn’t last long, as Munas Dabbur scuffed a shot past Marwin Hitz to level just seven minutes later.
Ihlas Bebou bundled in Hoffenheim’s second just after halftime, the ball bouncing off the Togolese and into the goal as Hitz tried to beat away a dangerous cross from the leftwing.
Haaland had a goal ruled out for offside in the second half before pouncing on a misplaced pass to snatch a crucial late equaliser.
Fellow Champions League hopefuls Leverkusen also dropped points after they conceded two late goals to draw 2-2 with strugglers Mainz.
Lucas Alario tapped in a low Moussa Diaby cross to give Leverkusen the lead on 14 minutes. Patrik Schick appeared to have sealed three points with a second on 84 minutes.
Yet second-from-bottom Mainz were rewarded for a brave performance as late goals by Robert Glatzel and Kevin Stoeger saved a point and continued their recent revival under new coach Bo Svensson.
Elsewhere, Sami Khedira helped rescue a 1-1 draw for Hertha Berlin against boyhood club Stuttgart.
“It was the first time I’d ever played against Stuttgart so it was strange, but it was nice to come back,” Khedira, who joined Hertha from Juventus in January after a decade abroad, told Sky.
Austrian striker Sasa Kalajdzic headed in his ninth goal of the season to give Stuttgart the lead at the end of a scrappy first half.
Veteran midfielder Khedira came off the bench in the second half and set up a late equaliser for 17-year-old Luca Netz to save the capital club from a fifth straight defeat.
Werder Bremen were held to a 0-0 draw at home to Freiburg while the late game between Union Berlin and Schalke also ended goalless.
Bottom-club Schalke remain nine points adrift of safety ahead of next week’s derby at home to Dortmund.