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Relegation looming as Hamburg fails to beat Mainz

March 3, 2018

Mainz' Gerrit Holtmann, left, Hamburg's Filip Kostic, second left, Mainz' Giulio Donati, center, Hamburg's Bakery Jatta, second right, and Mainz' goalie Florian Mueller, right, challenge for the ball during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hamburger SV and FSV Mainz 05, in Hamburg, Germany, Saturday, March 3, 2018. (Axel Heimken/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — Hamburger SV inched another step closer to its first demotion from the Bundesliga after being held by relegation-rival Mainz to 0-0 on Saturday.

Hamburg, which had a host of chances including a penalty from Filip Kostic, remains seven points from safety with nine games remaining after its 12th successive match without a win.

“It was a very important game today,” Hamburg coach Bernd Hollerbach, still without a win after six games. “We now have nine finals. It will be difficult.”

No other Bundesliga side has previously recovered from Hamburg’s position at this stage to secure survival.

The only founding member never relegated since the Bundesliga started in 1963, Hamburg is enduring its worst season with just four wins in 26 games. Last-place Cologne could move above the side with a win over visiting Stuttgart on Sunday.

Mainz remains in the relegation playoff place, level on points with Wolfsburg, beaten at home by Bayer Leverkusen 2-1.

Hamburg made the better start and almost took the lead through Kostic when Mainz goalkeeper Florian Mueller’s fingertips pushed the ball onto the crossbar.

Kostic thought he scored minutes later, but the celebrations were cut short when video showed he was offside.

The home side kept pushing and Rick van Drongelen struck the crossbar again after the break. Kostic had his chance from the penalty spot, only to be thwarted by Mueller’s save.

Leon Balogun, who conceded the spot kick for bundling over Luca Waldschmidt, was sent off from his second yellow card for the challenge, giving Hamburg a one-man advantage for the final half-hour.

But Hamburg still couldn’t find a breakthrough despite 18 efforts at goal overall compared to the visitors’ five.

DORTMUND HELD, SCHALKE SECOND

Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund cancelled each other out in a hard-fought 1-1 draw that allowed Schalke to jump to second by winning at home over Hertha Berlin 1-0.

Marko Pjaca took advantage of a rare lapse in the Hertha defense to claim Schalke’s winner before the break.

In the late game in Leipzig, Dortmund twice had goals ruled out for offside - through Andre Schuerrle and Marco Reus - before Jean-Kevin Augustin scored at the other end in the 29th after being played through by Naby Keita. Keita won the ball from Schuerrle after a Dortmund throw-in.

Reus equalized minutes later and this time it counted. Mahmoud Dahoud sent him through to face ’keeper Peter Gulacsi, whom he eluded with his first touch before scoring with his next.

Dahoud should have set up Michy Batshuayi to score in the second half, but the midfielder played the ball behind the Belgian forward and the chance was gone.

Dortmund dropped to third, a point behind Schalke, while Leipzig stayed sixth after its third consecutive game without a win.

FRANKFURT BACK ON TRACK

Eintracht Frankfurt recovered from its loss in Stuttgart to consolidate fourth place with a 1-0 win at home over Hannover. Danny da Costa’s first Bundesliga goal was enough as he powered home a header from a corner. The corner, however, should never have been, as the ball last came off Frankfurt’s Marius Wolf.

Also, Hoffenheim won at Augsburg 2-0 to move to four points below Leipzig in the last place for European qualification.

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