BERLIN (AP) — Substitute Kevin Schade scored late as Freiburg beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 on Sunday to leapfrog the visitors and move into third place ahead of the Bundesliga’s winter break.
Freiburg profited from some lax defending in the 84th minute as Ermedin Demirovic was able to cross without pressure and Schade nipped ahead of his marker to beat Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukáš Hrádecký at the near post.
Freiburg’s Vincenzo Grifo opened the scoring with a penalty before Charles Aranguiz equalized in first-half injury time for Leverkusen.
Freiburg has a one-point lead over fourth-place Leverkusen and Hoffenheim.
The loss is the latest blow to Leverkusen’s fading title ambitions after three Bundesliga games without a win. Gerardo Seoane’s team had given away two-goal leads in both of its previous games, and the defensive frailty was again at fault in Freiburg.
Freiburg was not expected to finish the first half of the season in third place. The club has one of the smallest budgets in the league and regularly loses its best players to bigger rivals after every season. Christian Streich, the longest serving coach in the Bundesliga, has had to rebuild the team on multiple occasions.
MODESTE TO THE RESCUE
Anthony Modeste scored a late goal to give Cologne a 1-0 win over Stuttgart in the last Bundesliga game before the winter break.
Kingsley Schindler crossed for the French striker to head the winner in the 88th minute and set off a Christmas party among home fans. Their patience had been tried by two disallowed goals early on, the first for an unintended hand ball, the second through VAR for a marginal offside call.
The win lifted Cologne to eighth place at the halfway stage.
Before the game, Cologne on Twitter thanked third-division clubs MSV Duisburg and VfL Osnabrück for their “clear reaction” to a racist incident earlier on Sunday which targeted visiting forward Aaron Opoku. Osnabrück declined to play on and Duisburg fans helped to identify the alleged culprit. Cologne's tweet featured a picture of Modeste applauding. Modeste has himself previously campaigned against racism.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP