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Leverkusen ground to 0-0 by gritty Freiburg

Bayer Leverkusen reclaimed second place in the Bundesliga from defending champions Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, despite being held to a goalless draw at Freiburg.

Leverkusen ground to 0-0 by gritty Freiburg
Photo: DPA

Leverkusen’s draw means league leaders Bayern Munich, who are at VfB Stuttgart on Sunday, can extend their lead to 11 points if they earn their 15th win in 19 league games this season.

Unbeaten in their previous five games, Freiburg, eighth in the league, outplayed Leverkusen on occasion, backed up by the stats as they finished with more possession, shots on goal and corners, but failed to break the deadlock.

Germany striker Stefan Kießling, the league’s top scorer with 13 goals, and midfielder Andre Schürrle both went close, while at the other end Freiburg’s Karim Guede had a chance in the dying stages after coming off the bench.

“We wanted all three points, but we knew it would be difficult. The draw is fair,” admitted Schürrle, with Germany coach Joachim Löw watching the match.

Freiburg were missing key players in defenders Mensur Mujdza (back) and Immanuel Höhn (infection), plus midfielder Cedrick Makiadi (at the African Cup of Nations with Congo) and forward Sebastian Freis (shoulder injury).

Leverkusen host Dortmund, who beat Nuremberg 3-0 on Friday, next Sunday in a mouth-watering clash, Schürrle adding: “We’re looking forward to Dortmund, that will be a great game.”

Earlier, fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt stayed in the chasing pack with a 2-1 home win over Hoffenheim.

A deft chip from Japan winger Takashi Inui on 35 minutes allowed Frankfurt midfielder Martin Lanig to ghost in behind the centre-backs and beat Hoffenheim’s Germany goalkeeper Tim Wiese for the first goal.

Hoffenheim, whose centre-back Marvin Compper quit the club for Fiorentina on Friday after being accused of having a motivation problem, equalised through teenage striker Kevin Volland on 65 minutes.

Eintracht regained the lead just two minutes later through right-winger Stefan Aigner, but despite the three points, Frankfurt, who were promoted at the end of last season, remain 12 points behind Bayern.

The defeat drops Hoffenheim into the automatic relegation places, in second bottom spot.

With speculation rife over whether Germany midfielder Lewis Holtby will join Tottenham Hotspur before January’s transfer window closes, his Schalke 04 side were held to a goalless draw at relegation-candidates Augsburg.

Holtby, whose contract ends in June, will join Spurs for next season and, although the North London club want to sign him sooner, Schalke have rejected all their offers for the 22-year-old so far.

Schalke have won just once in eight games and drop to sixth, while the hosts moved up to 16th.

Mainz moved up to fifth with a workmanlike 3-0 win at bottom side Greuther Fürth as former Real Madrid striker Adam Szalai scored twice.

Borussia Mönchengladbach enjoyed a 2-1 win at home to Fortuna Düsseldorf to claim seventh place.

Despite having defender Sebastien Pocognoli sent off for a dangerous foul just 34 minutes into his Bundesliga debut after joining from Standard Liege last week, 10-man Hannover 96 claimed a 2-1 victory over Wolfsburg.

Former Manchester United striker Mame Diouf scored Hannover’s second goal midway through the first-half.

There was bad news for Hannover after the game as it was confirmed Swiss centre-back Mario Eggimann faces a long lay off after breaking his ankle.

AFP/bk

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LEVERKUSEN

Chemical reaction likely to blame for deadly blast at German plant

An explosion that killed seven people at a hazardous waste site in Germany in July was likely caused by a chemical reaction inside a waste storage tank, local authorities said Monday, citing an interim report.

Chemical reaction likely to blame for deadly blast at German plant
The site of the Chempark explosion on July 27th. Photo: dpa | Oliver Berg

The July 27 blast at the Chempark chemical complex in the western city of Leverkusen, which also injured 31 workers, was heard several kilometres away and rattled the windows of nearby homes.

It sent up a large cloud of black smoke that prompted authorities to urge locals to stay indoors, although later examinations showed no danger to residents’ health.

The interim findings, announced by the Cologne district government, suggest that a chemical reaction “probably” caused waste liquid in storage tank 3 to self-heat and rapidly become warmer, leading to a build-up of pressure it was unable to withstand.

“The whole process happened so quickly that the safety mechanisms were no longer able to dissipate the pressure. When the pressure exceeded the design pressure of the container, it exploded,” the interim report is quoted as saying.

The explosion then triggered a large blaze at the park’s waste storage and incineration site that took firefighters hours to put out.

Chempark operator Currenta said in a statement that the early findings match its own investigations.

The Cologne district government said it was awaiting further expert analysis before final conclusions could be made about the cause of the blast.

Prosecutors in Cologne have opened an investigation against unknown persons on suspicion of involuntary manslaughter and causing an explosion through negligence.

All those killed and injured in the explosion worked at the chemical site.

The blast area, in Leverkusen’s Buerrig district, was separate from Chempark’s main industrial park that houses numerous companies including Bayer, Lanxess and Evonik Industries.

READ MORE: Death toll in German chemical blast climbs to six

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