Monday, February 18, 2019

Cup matches took their toll on title challengers – Kovac

SoccerNews in Bundesliga 9 Feb 2019

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Niko Kovac said Bayern Munich’s midweek exploits in the DFB-Pokal took their toll during Saturday’s 3-1 win over Schalke and suggested the cup could be to blame for Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund dropping points earlier in the day.

Goals from Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry followed a Jeffrey Bruma own-goal and an Ahmed Kutucu equaliser to ensure Bayern bounced back from a 3-1 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen with a victory at Allianz Arena on Saturday.

The win came after an extra-time victory over Hertha Berlin four days earlier and it saw Bayern narrow the gap at the top of the Bundesliga to five points.

Dortmund let slip a three-goal lead in the final 15 minutes of their 3-3 draw with Hoffenheim, and Kovac pointed to the leaders’ penalty shoot-out defeat to Werder Bremen as a possible cause of their collapse.

“We did a really good job in the first half and temporarily in the second,” head coach Kovac told reporters.

“But the 120-minute cup match was noticeable, in Dortmund too. You must not allow that when you’re three up after 75 minutes.

“That was a warning, but I think it was a deserved win and the right margin of victory.”

Schalke boss Domenico Tedesco said Gnabry’s strike in the 57th minute of the game killed his side’s chances at a moment when they were battling hard to get back on level terms.

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