Nkunku steers Leipzig towards Champions League spot

·2-min read

Christopher Nkunku inspired Leipzig as they took a big step towards next season's Champions League by rallying very late to beat Werder Bremen 2-1 in the Bundesliga

The French forward set up both goals on Sunday: Willi Orban's equaliser in the 87th minute, then a solo run to tee up Dominik Szoboszlai's winner in the sixth minute of injury time.

The win means Leipzig reclaimed third place from Union Berlin and move four points clear of fifth-placed Freiburg.

Two rounds of matches remain and the top four qualify for the Champions League.

Bremen had been hoping to secure their survival with a win and it looked good for the visitors for much of the game.

Leipzig was aggrieved to have an Nkunku goal in the 66th ruled out through VAR for a push in the back from Mohamed Simakan on Leonardo Bittencourt in the build up.

TV replays showed contact, and Bittencourt tried playing the ball after he fell.

Bittencourt further riled the Leipzig fans when he scored four minutes later with a fine finish to Jens Stage's cross.

Tempers frayed minutes later with pushing and shoving between rival players. Referee Florian Badstubner showed three yellow cards, with Bittencourt among those booked.

Bremen goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka produced a brilliant save to deny Nkunku in the 77th minute but he was unable to stop Orban scoring with a powerful header from  Nkunku's cross in the 87th, or Szoboszlai notching the winner.

Stuttgart missed the chance to escape the relegation zone earlier when held 1-1 at home by Bayer Leverkusen. Two penalties ensured a share of the points.

Serhou Guirassy opened the scoring in the 57th minute, temporarily lifting Stuttgart ahead of Bochum on goal difference, but Exequiel Palacios replied with another spot kick 13 minutes later to leave Stuttgart in an automatic relegation place.

Hertha Berlin are last on 25 points, four points behind Stuttgart, while Schalke (30 points), Bochum (31) and Hoffenheim (32) also remain in danger.