Football: Leipzig title hopes hit by Freiburg draw on Bundesliga restart

Leipzig's Konrad Laimer (left) and Freiburg's Nicolas Hoefler during the match. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LEIPZIG, GERMANY (AFP) - RB Leipzig were held to a 1-1 draw by Freiburg as the Bundesliga restarted following the coronavirus suspension on Saturday (May 16), suffering a further knock to their dwindling title hopes.

Julian Nagelsmann's third-placed side sit four points behind league leaders Bayern Munich ahead of the reigning champions' visit to Union Berlin on Sunday, and it would have been worse if Freiburg midfielder Robin Koch's late effort had not been ruled out by VAR.

Leipzig's title dreams had started to slip away before the lockdown started, as back-to-back draws with Bayer Leverkusen and Wolfsburg in March had seen them fall five points off the pace.

Players and coaches sitting on the bench wore protective masks in compliance with the stringent safety guidelines implemented to allow the Bundesliga to resume before Europe's other top leagues.

The hosts started brightly at an eerily-quiet Red Bull Arena, with Timo Werner and Nordi Mukiele both going close to opening the scoring in the first half an hour.

But Freiburg claimed a surprise lead 12 minutes before half-time as Vincenzo Grifo's low corner was diverted in by centre-back Manuel Gulde.

Leipzig continued to dominate possession in the second period and wasted a golden chance in the 57th minute as on-loan Everton winger Ademola Lookman volleyed wide when totally unmarked just yards from goal.

Freiburg had to rely on their goalkeeper the next time Leipzig carved them open, as Alexander Schwolow stretched out a leg to brilliantly deny Werner a 28th goal of the season.

Leipzig gave themselves fresh hope of turning the game around in the 77th minute, though, as Yussuf Poulsen headed past Schwolow.

The home side pushed for a winner, as Marcel Sabitzer and Patrik Schick joined Lookman in coming off the bench, but failed to carve out another clear-cut opportunity.

Instead, it was Freiburg who thought they had snatched a dramatic injury-time victory, only for Koch's close-range finish to be ruled out for offside following a VAR review.

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