RB Leipzig 3-1 Schalke 04
RB Leipzig made sure to start the year with a bang as the Bundesliga returned to regular programming after a month-long winter break.
The Red Bulls, winless in their last four top-flight football games before the match, handed Schalke their first defeat since September to move above their top-four rivals and reclaim the second spot.
Pre-match betting odds were tight between the two, but the Royal Blues fell short after a swashbuckling second half saw Leipzig thrill live betting and pull away for good with a quick-fire double.
Liverpool-bound Naby Keita opened the scoring for the hosts to give them the lead at halftime. Amid speculations that he could leave earlier than planned, the Guinea international put the issues to one side and scored from 25 yards with the help of a huge deflection from Schalke’s Naldo.
Having a penchant for fighting back, the Royal Blues restored parity moments after the restart. Naldo made amends for his blunder earlier and met Daniel Caligiuri’s free-kick to fire an unstoppable header past keeper Peter Gulacsi.
Schalke appeared to be on the ascendancy, but another costly mistake from Naldo allowed Leipzig to regain their lead and win. The 35-year-old lost possession in the 69th minute and the resulting attack paved the way for Bulls’ Timo Werner to blast the ball from close range.
Werner then turned provider two minutes later, setting up Bruma for their third goal and first victory since November.
Earlier on Saturday, Bayern Munich increased their lead at the top after taking down Bayer Leverkusen, 1-3. James Rodriguez scored one and assisted on another as the Bavarians moved 13 points clear off the second-placers.
Hannover also had a sensational win this Week 18 as Niclas Fullkrug bagged a hat-trick to power HSV past Mainz 05, all after the visitors went 2-0 up. Elsewhere, Stuttgart beat Hertha BSC 1-0 to end their four-game skid, while Augsburg piled more misery on relegation-threatened Hamburg.
On the other games, Werder Bremen and Hoffenheim, as well as Frankfurt and Freiburg, shared the spoils in their respective fixtures.
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