Sancho stars for Dortmund, Hamburg gains hope in Bundesliga

Hamburg fans support their team during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hamburger SV and SC Freiburg, in Hamburg, Germany, Saturday, April 21, 2018. (Christian Charisius/dpa via AP)

By CIARAN FAHEY

Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) Jadon Sancho starred as Borussia Dortmund took a great stride toward Champions League qualification by thrashing Bayer Leverkusen 4-0 on Saturday.

The English forward scored one goal - his first in the Bundesliga - and displayed wonderful skill before setting up two more to help Dortmund replace Leverkusen in third, three points clear. The top four qualify for Europe's top competition.

"To reach the Champions League you can't play like that," said Leverkusen's Sven Bender, celebrated after the game by Dortmund fans on his return.

Sancho, handed a rare start, scored early when he curled the ball inside the far post after some good work from Christian Pulisic.

Marco Reus had a goal ruled out for offside and a penalty kick saved, but he finally scored when Mario Goetze set him free with a deft touch early in the second half.

Sancho showed a wonderful first touch to take the ball with the side of his foot in his stride before setting up Maximilian Philipp for Dortmund's third, and the 18-year-old Sancho picked out Reus with a precise cross for the fourth with Germany coach Joachim Loew in the stands.

Hamburger SV kept alive hope of Bundesliga survival by edging fellow relegation candidate Freiburg 1-0.

With three games remaining, Hamburg was within five points of safety. Hamburg is the only side to have played every season since the Bundesliga's formation in 1963.

League champion Bayern Munich warmed up for Real Madrid's visit with a comfortable 3-0 win in Hannover.

Substitutes Thomas Mueller and Robert Lewandowski scored in the second half, with the latter taking his league-leading tally to 28. Sebastian Rudy completed the scoring late.

With one eye on Wednesday's Champions League semifinal first leg, Jupp Heynckes benched Mats Hummels, Javi Martinez, Joshua Kimmich, Franck Ribery, Mueller, and Lewandowski. David Alaba was left out of the squad. A Bundesliga debut was given to Lars Lukas, an 18-year-old defender.

Leipzig's hopes of Champions League football suffered a blow after being routed at home by Hoffenheim 5-2.

Hoffenheim moved two points above Leipzig and within two of Leverkusen, which occupies the last Champions League qualification place.

Stuttgart defeated Werder Bremen 2-0 at home to make sure it can't be demoted.

Also, Hertha Berlin won at Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0. The latter's Makoto Hasebe was sent off for striking Davie Selke in the face.

Selke had earlier fallen theatrically under Hasebe's challenge to earn a penalty. Referee Sascha Stegemann stuck with his initial decision despite consulting video replays, and Selke's spot kick broke the deadlock.

Updated April 21, 2018

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