*

upload_article_image

VAR denies Leipzig bid to cut Bayern's lead to 2 points

Leipzig had an injury-time winner ruled out through VAR and had to settle for a 0-0 draw with Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga on Friday.

It was potentially a title-deciding decision.

A win for hosts Leipzig would have cut Bayern Munich’s lead to two points ahead of its tough game at third-place Wolfsburg on Saturday. Defending champions Bayern now have the chance to pull seven points clear with five rounds remaining after this weekend.

Hoffenheim's Christoph Baumgartner, left, challenges for the ball with Leipzig's Kevin Kampl, center and Yussuf Poulsen, right, during the German Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in Leipzig, Germany, Friday, April 16, 2021. (AP PhotoMichael Sohn, Pool)

Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann acknowledged his team's title bid was becoming increasingly difficult.

“We have to win the games to manage it, but we didn't manage it, and that's why we don't have to talk about it so much,” Nagelsmann said.

Substitute Yussuf Poulsen thought he had scored in the 96th minute after heading in Marcel Halstenberg’s corner, but referee Manuel Gräfe reviewed video replays and determined that the ball struck Poulsen’s hand.

Hoffenheim's Chris Richards, right, challenges for the ball with Leipzig's Yussuf Poulsen, left, during the German Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in Leipzig, Germany, Friday, April 16, 2021. (AP PhotoMichael Sohn, Pool)

It was Hoffenheim's second consecutive scoreless draw after another uninspiring game against Bayer Leverkusen on Monday, but it was enough to lift the visitors to 11th on goal difference ahead of the rest of the 29th round.

Nagelsmann, who is still just 33, was up against his former side in Hoffenheim, which he led to third place and Champions League qualification in 2018.

Both Nagelsmann and Hoffenheim counterpart Sebastian Hoeneß reacted at the break after a muted first half.

Leipzig's Dayot Upamecano reacts during the German Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in Leipzig, Germany, Friday, April 16, 2021. (AP PhotoMichael Sohn, Pool)

Nagelsmann brought on Kevin Kampl and Amadou Haidara for the ineffective Angeliño and Nordi Mukiele, while Hoeneß sent on Ihlas Bebou for Georginio Rutter.

Hoeneß was forced into another change early in the second half when Mijat Gacinovic replaced the injured Florian Grillitsch.

Christopher Nkunku had the game’s first real chance before the hour-mark when he forced a save from Hoffenheim goalkeeper Oliver Baumann, a minute before Tyler Adams missed another good chance for Leipzig.

Hoffenheim's Georginio Rutter, right, challenges for the ball with Leipzig's Marcel Sabitzer during the German Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in Leipzig, Germany, Friday, April 16, 2021. (AP PhotoMichael Sohn, Pool)

Alexander Sörloth, another substitute, should have done better when he fired over from a promising position, while Bebou missed the visitors’ best chance in the 75th.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

Hoffenheim's Christoph Baumgartner, right, challenges for the ball with Leipzig's Willi Orban during the German Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in Leipzig, Germany, Friday, April 16, 2021. (AP PhotoMichael Sohn, Pool)

Hoffenheim's Christoph Baumgartner, right, challenges for the ball with Leipzig's Dani Olmo during the German Bundesliga soccer match between RB Leipzig and TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in Leipzig, Germany, Friday, April 16, 2021. (AP PhotoMichael Sohn, Pool)