Hannover forward Jonathas enjoyed an extremely eventful cameo after coming on as a half-time substitute at Bayern Munich on Saturday.

The visitors trailed the Bundesliga leaders and defending champions 2-0 at the break and coach Thomas Doll called for the Brazilian striker in place of Hendrik Weydandt.

And Jonathas had an immediate impact, scoring a penalty to halve the deficit after 51 minutes as Jerome Boateng handled in the area.

But the 30-year-old received a booking in the aftermath of the goal for dissent and it was not long before he was heading back to the changing room, dismissed for a foul on Joshua Kimmich.

There were just nine minutes and three seconds between his arrival from the bench and his red card, during which time he scored. This was the shortest span of time for such a series of events in Bundesliga history. Bayern ran out 3-1 winners. 

Bayern Munich won 3-1 at home to relegation-threatened Hannover to move five points clear of Borussia Dortmund in the race for the Bundesliga title.

Niko Kovac's side seemed set to cruise to victory at the Allianz Arena on Saturday, with goals from Robert Lewandowski and Leon Goretzka earning a 2-0 half-time lead.

But Jonathas swiftly halved Bayern's advantage with a penalty given after a VAR check for handball against Jerome Boateng, although the Hannover striker let his team down by getting sent off within four minutes of his goal.

The 10 men struggled to contain Bayern thereafter and Franck Ribery hit the third with seven minutes to go - leaving Dortmund needing a win to keep pressure on the leaders when they go to Werder Bremen later on Saturday.

Genki Haraguchi sent an early header off target for Hannover while Kingsley Coman and Lewandowski also failed to make the most of aerial opportunities in the opening exchanges.

But the league leaders broke the deadlock in the 27th minute, a typically pinpoint right-wing cross from Joshua Kimmich powered past Michael Esser by Lewandowski.

Esser made good saves to keep out drives by Thomas Muller and Boateng but he could do nothing about Bayern's second goal, a superb 25-yard curler from Goretzka that nudged the post on its way across the line.

Goretzka could have added two more before the break as Bayern continued to push for goals, however Hannover cut the deficit from the penalty spot in the 51st minute.

Boateng blocked a cross with his arm and half-time substitute Jonathas sent Sven Ulreich the wrong way.

Hannover's hope was short-lived, though, as Jonathas was dismissed in the 55th minute. The striker had been booked for a scuffle with Ulreich after scoring the penalty and was shown a second yellow then a red after catching Kimmich with his arm.

Goretzka went close again, but Kovac's side successfully shifted the spotlight to Dortmund with substitute Ribery adding a deflected third to make sure of the points before his fellow veteran winger Arjen Robben made a late cameo – a first appearance since November following a long-term injury.

 

What does it mean? Seventh straight title in sight

Bayern stumbled a little with a 1-1 draw at Nurnberg last time out but returning to winning ways has tightened their grip on the title race as they seek a seventh consecutive Bundesliga crown. Dortmund have it all to do after last weekend's shock Revierderby defeat at home to Schalke.

As for Hannover, they are all but relegated with six points to make up on Stuttgart, who are in the play-off place, and only two matches still to play for Thomas Doll's men.

Kimmich on the mark again

Only Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho has recorded more assists in the Bundesliga this season than the consistently outstanding Bayern right-back Kimmich. His cross for Lewandowski's opening goal was almost undefendable.

Jonathas' moments of madness

To get sent off less than 10 minutes after coming on as a substitute is pretty silly but, given Jonathas had also given his side a lifeline from the penalty spot, his hot-headed cameo was even more brainless. 

Getting a cheap booking for clashing with Ulreich was needless and left him vulnerable. He might argue he struck Kimmich accidentally, but the damage was done. Nobody has ever come on as a Bundesliga substitute, scored and been sent off in such quick time.

What's next?

Bayern go to third-placed RB Leipzig next Saturday, potentially their toughest remaining league game and a warm-up for the DFB-Pokal final between the two clubs. Hannover's desperate fight against the drop continues when they host Freiburg on the same day.

An upbeat Lucien Favre believes "everything is possible again" for Borussia Dortmund less than a week after declaring the Bundesliga title race was over.

Dortmund's implosion in last weekend's 4-2 defeat to rivals Schalke appeared to hand Bayern Munich a huge boost at the top of the table, but the champions failed to take advantage as they were held to a surprise 1-1 draw by relegation-threatened Nurnberg the following day.

The gap between first and second now stands at two points and the sudden change in fortune has given Favre and his players renewed hope of erasing the deficit.

Both sides are back in action on Saturday as Dortmund head to mid-table Werder Bremen, while Bayern host bottom-placed Hannover.

"Everybody thought that it was over. Not just me, everyone did," Favre said in his pre-match news conference.

"It wasn't planned that Bayern would struggle against Nurnberg.

"The players are not stupid. They look at the table and know everything's possible again, but we need to focus on the game against Bremen and need to win it.

"There's no other way."

Favre will have to do without Marco Reus for the matches against Werder and Fortuna Dusseldorf as his captain serves a two-game suspension for the red card he received in the Revierderby.

Marius Wolf was handed a three-game ban after being sent off in the same game and could be replaced at right-back by the experienced Lukasz Piszczek, who is on the cusp of returning from injury.

"It doesn't do much good to talk about it. Fortunately, he will be available for the last Bundesliga match [against Borussia Monchengladbach]," Favre said of Reus on Friday.

"[Piszczek] has been training all week and will do that today, so we have to see if that will be enough."

Niko Kovac has warned his Bayern Munich players to be on their guard against relegation-threatened Hannover as an unpredictable Bundesliga battle reaches its conclusion. 

Bayern could have taken a huge step towards retaining their title last weekend after Borussia Dortmund were beaten 4-2 by Schalke in a dramatic and controversial Revierderby. 

But Kovac's men could only draw 1-1 at second-bottom Nurnberg – their blushes partially spared by Tim Leibold's last-gasp penalty miss. 

It means Bayern are two points ahead of second-placed Dortmund with three games to play.

After hosting Hannover - who could be relegated if they lose on Saturday and Stuttgart avoid defeat at Hertha Berlin - the Bavarians conclude their campaign with matches against RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt, both teams currently in the Champions League qualification places. 

"The last four or five game days have produced surprising results. Teams are playing with freedom," Kovac told a pre-match news conference, noting Hannover winning for the first time since February when they beat Mainz 1-0 last time out. 

"This has been seen at Hannover against Mainz. That makes it difficult for us. But we have to and want to win. They have their last chance against us.  

"I'm not sure if Hannover will play offensively. We've done a lot of good games here in the last few weeks and months. If they were to attack, that would suit us.  

"The players know very well that we have left a huge chance in Nuremberg. But they are only humans.  

"There were many surprising results. We could have lost too. We have one point more than Dortmund than we did before." 

BVB's derby day unravelled to a 4-2 defeat and red cards for Marco Reus and Marius Wolf after Julian Weigl was harshly adjudged to have handled in the area following a VAR review. 

Schalke's Daniel Caligiuri cancelled out Mario Gotze's opener from the penalty spot as a result and Dortmund boss Lucien Favre raged against current interpretations of the handball rule, which he branded a "scandal" and a "disgrace". 

Kovac views things similarly to his title rival. 

"We should turn back the wheel. We cannot play soccer without hands," he said.  

"You need your arms while running. You have to see if it was intentional." 

Javi Martinez faces a late fitness test on a knee problem before the Hannover game, when Bayern will again be without James Rodriguez (muscle strain) and Manuel Neuer (calf). 

Veteran wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery have both been passed fit.

Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac says he always voted for Lionel Messi to win the Ballon d'Or when he was Croatia head coach.

Messi produced another sparkling performance on Wednesday, scoring twice to give Barcelona a 3-0 Champions League semi-final first-leg win over Liverpool at Camp Nou and reach 600 club goals in the process.

His form in 2018-19 has made a mockery of his ranking in last year's race for the Ballon d'Or, when he came in fifth place behind Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Cristiano Ronaldo and winner Luka Modric.

But Kovac, who was Croatia coach between 2013 and 2015, insists he has never had any doubt about who is the best player in the world.

"There is only one Messi," he told a news conference on Friday ahead of Bayern Munich's Bundesliga clash with Hannover. "No matter what I say, it's too little. You have to shower him with superlatives.

"When it came to the Ballon d'Or choice, he always got my vote when I was the coach of the Croatian national team.

"There are many good players, but he is the best. A team is important, but he makes the difference."

Messi has won the Ballon d'Or five times in his career, the same number as Juventus forward Ronaldo.

Ajax became just the third team to win the away legs of their last-16, quarter-final and semi-final Champions League ties in a single campaign.

Donny van de Beek scored the only goal against Tottenham in London on Tuesday as surprise semi-finalists Ajax seized a 1-0 first-leg lead in the last four.

And that victory came after winning away in stunning fashion at both defending champions Real Madrid – a staggering 4-1 success – and Cristiano Ronaldo's Juventus.

Ajax join Bayern Munich, in the 2012-13 season, and last term's Madrid side in achieving such a run of results on the road.

The omens are good for the Eredivisie giants, too, as both Bayern and Madrid went on to win the tournament in those respective campaigns.

Bayern won away at Arsenal, Juve and Barcelona before beating Borussia Dortmund in the final. Madrid triumphed on their travels against Paris Saint-Germain, Juve and Bayern, then saw off Liverpool.

Ajax are in a particularly commanding position given that only one of 17 teams to lose a first leg at home in a European Cup or Champions League semi-final, as Spurs have, have progressed. That was the Dutch side in 1995-96.

James Rodriguez will need tests on a calf injury after Bayern Munich's 1-1 draw at Nurnberg, says head coach Niko Kovac.

Colombia midfielder James came off the bench early in the second half during Sunday's Bundesliga clash, but he lasted only 15 minutes before having to be replaced himself, with Alphonso Davies coming on.

Despite the blow of losing James, Serge Gnabry equalised to cancel out Matheus Pereira's opening goal and the Bundesliga leaders had a lucky escape in added time when Tim Leibold's penalty came back off the post.

Bayern moved two points clear of title rivals Borussia Dortmund as a result of the draw, but Kovac is unsure of the severity of James' injury.

"He has already been treated but it needs more investigation," Kovac said to Sky of James, whose loan from Real Madrid expires at the end of the season.

"After five minutes Thiago [Alcantara] came to me and said James felt something on the calf. He could not define exactly if something has broken or if he has just pulled something."

Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic appeared to be involved in the decision to withdraw James, who walked down the tunnel, but Kovac clarified what happened.

"It was very loud in the stadium, he ran to the sideline and Hasan, who speaks Spanish very well, asked him what was the matter," Kovac added.

"We did not know if we had to take him out right away, we were thinking about changing another player."

The title race remains in Bayern's hands but Kovac accepted his side were affected by their midweek exertions against Werder Bremen, who they beat to reach the DFB-Pokal final.

"We saw that we had a tough cup match Wednesday," he said. "Nurnberg have thrown themselves into every ball and have for 90 minutes passionately played football and also defended.

"They fought for the point. We had opportunities today, but we still have to be happy that we took a point.

"We were struggling today because Nurnberg were good, but also because we did not have our normal form today.

"It's really annoying because we could have won and moved away to four points [clear of Dortmund]."

Tim Leibold hit the post with a last-gasp penalty as Bayern Munich escaped with a dramatic 1-1 draw at Nurnberg on Sunday.

Alphonso Davies' errant elbow to the face of Georg Margreitter gifted full-back Leibold the chance to be the hero for the relegation-threatened hosts, but his spot-kick came back off the inside of the post.

Kingsley Coman then failed to convert a breakaway one-on-one in a frantic finish to a contest that ended with Bayern inching two points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the top.

Serge Gnabry had earlier struck in the 75th minute to cancel out Matheus Pereira's opener and, though they were let off the hook late on, Niko Kovac may well view the result as two points dropped following Dortmund's loss to Schalke on Saturday.

Arturo Vidal's trophy-laden run has continued at Barcelona after the Chile international collected an eighth straight league winners' medal.

Ernesto Valverde's team sealed LaLiga glory by beating Levante 1-0 at Camp Nou, with Vidal - a four-time Serie A winner with Juventus and a three-time Bundesliga champion at Bayern Munich - having appeared in 30 of Barca's 35 games in his first campaign in Spain.

Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini won the league for an eighth successive occasion with Juve this season, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the only other man to have clinched eight successive titles across multiple major European leagues.

Ibrahimovic's run from the 2003-04 season until 2010-11 featured triumphs with Ajax, Juventus, Inter, Barcelona and AC Milan, although his two successes with the Bianconeri were later revoked following the Calciopoli investigation.

We take a look at the role he played in each of his eight triumphant campaigns.

Juventus 2011-12

Vidal, a three-time league champion in his native Chile with Colo-Colo, guided Bayer Leverkusen to second in the 2010-11 Bundesliga before helping start Juve's ongoing dominance of Serie A. Vidal featured in 33 games for the Bianconeri, not ending up on the losing side once.

Juventus 2012-13

Half of Vidal's 10 Serie A goals came in April and May as he scored winners against AC Milan and Palermo in a campaign where he finished as the club's joint-top scorer along with Mirko Vucinic. The midfielder also chipped in with eight assists.

Juventus 2013-14

The best return of Vidal's career in Europe came as he scored 11 times when the Bianconeri claimed a 30th Scudetto. Juve won 33 matches that season, with the Chilean featuring in 27 of them.

Juventus 2014-15

Vidal's header against Sampdoria in May sealed a fourth straight title, though the midfielder missed out on a treble in his final campaign in Turin as Barca beat Juve in the Champions League final. Vidal won the Copa America with Chile before returning to Germany.

Bayern Munich 2015-16

Pep Guardiola's Bayern signed Vidal for an initial €36million (£25.5m) in 2015 and he featured 30 times in the Bundesliga as the Bavarian club clinched a fourth straight title. Having amassed 38 yellow cards and one red in four years in Italy, Vidal was booked just three times.

Bayern Munich 2016-17

Vidal only started 21 games under Guardiola's successor Carlo Ancelotti as Bayern made it five in a row. As was the case in the season before, he scored just four times.

Bayern Munich 2017-18

Jupp Heynckes, Vidal's coach at Leverkusen, replaced Ancelotti in October and guided Bayern to yet another title. Vidal, who scored in four successive league games in November and December, had his final Bayern campaign cut short by a knee injury suffered in April.

Barcelona 2018-19

Having been a key figure for Juve and Bayern, Vidal has been utilised more as a squad player by Valverde, coming off the bench on 10 occasions in LaLiga. His first Barca goal came in the 5-1 thrashing of Real Madrid in October.

Jerome Boateng will miss Bayern Munich's Bundesliga clash with Bavarian rivals Nurnberg on Sunday after suffering a knee injury in training.

The 30-year-old – who played the full 90 minutes in his side's DFB-Pokal win over Werder Bremen on Wednesday – was left bruised by a collision on Saturday.

While Boateng will miss the trip to Max-Morlock-Stadion, Arjen Robben has travelled with the squad for the first time since November.

The Dutchman – who will leave the club at the end of the season – has endured a torrid campaign with injuries but could play some part as Bayern look to take advantage of Borussia Dortmund's slip up on Saturday.

Dortmund's 4-2 defeat to Schalke means Niko Kovac's side can open up a four-point lead over them at the Bundesliga summit.

Niko Kovac believes Bayern Munich must win each of their final four Bundesliga fixtures to pip Borussia Dortmund to the title.

The leaders hold a one-point advantage at the top heading into Saturday's trip to relegation-threatened Nurnberg.

Challengers Dortmund, who meet rivals Schalke on the same day, had earlier this season appeared ready to end Bayern's stranglehold on the silverware, but a 10-game unbeaten streak has seen Kovac's men climb to the summit.

They can be crowned champions for the seventh successive season by taking maximum points from the remaining matches and head coach Kovac is keen to put the title beyond BVB's reach.

"It's a close fight. It's interesting for the fans. We would like to have more of a lead," Kovac said.

"We're going off the assumption that we need four victories, and if we do that we don't have to look at anyone else.

"We want to win all of our matches and focus on ourselves. I won't watch the Dortmund game against Schalke because we don't have to play against either of them.

"I'm only looking at RB Leipzig, Eintracht Frankfurt and Hannover as they are the next opponents."

Bayern kept alive their hopes of a domestic double thanks to Robert Lewandowski's brace in a nervy 3-2 victory over Werder Bremen in the DFB-Pokal semi-finals in midweek.

Kovac has no fresh injury concerns but will likely resist the temptation to rotate his squad, an oft-criticised feature of the club's unconvincing performances before the mid-season break.

"I don't underestimate any opponent," he said.

"Everyone expects a win against Nurnberg and of course we want to win, but it won't be an easy match

"Franck Ribery is getting better but isn't at 100 per cent yet. Manuel Neuer is also on his way back. We have to see who is physically 100 per cent fit to play."

Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller is desperate to "seal the deal" in both the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal.

The Bavarians sit one point ahead of nearest rivals Borussia Dortmund in the table and booked their place in the Pokal final, where they will face RB Leipzig, with a 3-2 win over Werder Bremen at the Weserstadion.

Despite Bayern's Bundesliga dominance, they have not won the domestic double since 2016 and Muller is keen to secure success on both fronts during the remainder of the season.

"We will see what the next three weeks brings," he told the German Football Federation's official website.

"Of course, we are highly motivated and now want to seal the deal in both competitions. The 5-0 win in Der Klassiker against Dortmund was the initial spark. We have a huge desire to win both competitions."

 

What a cupfight!!! Now Berlin is calling Final vs. @DieRotenBullen   #DFBPokal #Finale #FCBayern #esmuellert #thomasmüller #MiaSanMia pic.twitter.com/rmkOLQ0XPt

— Thomas Müller (@esmuellert_) April 25, 2019

Bayern's league run-in includes a trip to third-placed Leipzig and Muller is fully aware of the threat posed by Ralf Rangnick's men.

"RB Leipzig are obviously in very good form and are playing well in the second half of this season," he explained.

"I think both matches, the Bundesliga clash and the Pokal final are exactly what the fans want to see. We will see what happens."

And Muller believes that his team's fighting spirit will give them the edge as they look for success on both fronts.

"It is important to be able to give an extra two or three percent if necessary at this level of football," he said. "It is important to have the willingness and doggishness on days like this."

Werder Bremen captain Max Kruse described Bayern Munich's winning penalty in the DFB-Pokal semi-final as "ridiculous".

Quickfire goals from Yuya Osako and Milot Rashica had drawn Werder level on Wednesday after Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller scored to put Bayern in control.

But with 10 minutes to go at Weser-Stadion, Theodor Gebre Selassie's challenge on Kingsley Coman resulted in referee Daniel Siebert pointing to the penalty spot, with VAR not used.

Lewandowski stepped up to convert and in the 91st minute ex-Bayern striker Claudio Pizarro missed a good headed chance at the back post to force extra time.

The full-time whistle saw numerous Werder players, as well as coach Florian Kohfeldt, confront Siebert over the penalty award, and Kruse could not hide his frustration with the decision in a post-match interview.

"That is ridiculous. What do we have VAR for?" Kruse said.

"I don't want to say anything else, what the referee told me on the pitch is enough already."

Kruse clashed with Bayern defender Jerome Boateng after the game and he explained what happened in the exchange.

"He told me Bayern was by far the better team and they should have been up at half-time by 4-0," Kruse added. "He should not talk to me but celebrate with his fans."

Bayern's captain on the day Muller, though, defended Siebert and said it was the right decision to penalise Gebre Selassie.

"When I saw it in the match it was a clear penalty," the forward said. "Kingsley runs away from him, Gebre Selassie pressures him with his arm and makes him fall over.

"Kingsley is no diver. I can understand that a penalty that leads to a 3-2 always gets discussed, but this decision was right."

Robert Lewandowski scored twice as Bayern Munich booked a place in the DFB-Pokal final with a 3-2 win at Werder Bremen, surviving a stirring second-half fightback.

Lewandowski's first-half goal put Bayern on track and when Thomas Muller added their second after the interval at Weser-Stadion on Wednesday they seemed set to cruise into a final against RB Leipzig in Berlin.

But Werder hit back with Yuya Osako and Milot Rashica on target with a quickfire double to briefly draw them level before Lewandowski converted a controversial penalty in the 80th minute to win it.

Bundesliga leaders Bayern suffered a shock loss to Niko Kovac's Eintracht Frankfurt in the final last year but, despite Lewandowski missing an open goal for his hat-trick in added time, the coach now has a chance to potentially make it a double in his first season in charge of the Bavarian giants.

Bayern Munich's back-up goalkeeper Sven Ulreich has advised Alexander Nubel to remain at Schalke should the Bundesliga champions come calling.

Nubel has been a standout performer for struggling Schalke this term, and reports have emerged linking the 22-year-old with a transfer to Bayern - a move the club's current number one Manuel Neuer made in 2011.

Ulreich moved to Bayern to be their back-up goalkeeper in 2015, though he made 29 Bundesliga appearances in 2017-18 due to Neuer sustaining a foot injury early in the campaign.

Former Stuttgart stopper Ulreich returned to Bayern's line-up for their win over Werder Bremen on Saturday, with Neuer sustaining a calf injury in the 4-1 victory over Fortuna Dusseldorf six days earlier.

And Ulreich has suggested that Germany Under-21 international Nubel, who has made 18 appearances across all competitions this season, should reject any potential Bayern advances and instead focus on regular first-team action.

"I do not think that Nubel wants to come here as number two, if he can play at Schalke," Ulreich told Sport Bild.

"I do not think he wants to sit down behind Manu at the age of 22.

"I think if he came, he would want to play, so that makes no sense in my view. Neuer is absolutely undisputed."

Ulreich is set to start once more for Bayern when they take on Bremen in the DFB-Pokal semi-finals on Wednesday, with Neuer due back from injury in time to play against RB Leipzig on May 11.

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