Poulsen rescues point as hosts suffer title race setback
There was VAR drama in RB Leipzig's clash with Freiburg as the hosts were dealt a setback in the Bundesliga title race.
RB Leipzig's return to Bundesliga action saw them immediately suffer a setback in the title race as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Freiburg, who were denied a late winner by VAR.
In the absence of spectators in their first game since the league was suspended on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic, Leipzig dominated matters at the Red Bull Arena.
However, Manuel Gulde's 34th-minute interlude to the near-constant Leipzig pressure looked to have secured a surprise win for Europa League hopefuls Freiburg.
Yussuf Poulsen's header in the 77th minute levelled matters but Robin Koch tucked what seemed to be a 93rd-minute winner, only for VAR to rule there had been an offside in the build-up.
The draw leaves Leipzig four points behind Bayern Munich, who have a game in hand, and three adrift of Borussia Dortmund in second place.
Leipzig were on the front foot right from the off and Konrad Laimer went close to opening the scoring in the second minute when he shot narrowly wide from outside the box.
He had been teed up by Christopher Nkunku, who then forced Alexander Schwolow into action with a powerful half-volley that was beaten away by the diving Freiburg goalkeeper.
Schwolow was needed to preserve parity again as he kept out Timo Werner's near-post effort after a rapid counter from the Leipzig talisman.
Yet for all Leipzig's opportunities, it was Freiburg who broke the deadlock with their first shot of the game, though it was debatable how much Gulde knew about it.
He diverted Vincenzo Grifo's corner beyond Peter Gulacsi to give the visitors the lead, which perhaps should have been doubled when captain Christian Gunter fizzed a shot across the face of goal.
511 - Manuel Gulde scores his first #Bundesliga goal for 511 days (last in December 2018 in Nürnberg). It's his 3rd BL goal - all of them came away and from set pieces. Specialist. #RBLSCF pic.twitter.com/usueKg13rj— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) May 16, 2020
Leipzig introduced Ademola Lookman for Nordi Mukiele and, after Marcel Halstenberg tested Schwolow from long range and Poulsen dragged a shot wide, the substitute was guilty of a shocking miss.
Lookman skewed his close-range strike from Kevin Kampl's delivery off target with the goal at his mercy.
Kampl then saw a goal-bound effort cleared and Poulsen headed wide as the pressure grew.
Schwolow made a fine stop with his legs to deny Lookman before further displays of inaccuracy from Poulsen and Lookman, the former redeeming himself with a towering far-post header from a Kampl cross.
Koch converted from Lucas Holer's header across goal from Gunter's free-kick, but Freiburg's celebrations proved premature as Holer was adjudged to have strayed offside.
What does it mean? Leipzig pay for profligacy
Leipzig had 23 shots but only eight hit the target as they wasted a plethora of clear-cut chances.
Technology spared their blushes but Leipzig will rue their profligacy after losing ground on Dortmund.
Schwolow faultless for Freiburg
Though they were guilty of spurning opportunities, Leipzig were also continually frustrated by Schwolow, who made a string of impressive saves, and seven in total.
It was a fine display from the shot-stopper, who could do little to prevent Poulsen's equaliser.
Substitute Lookman committed the most glaring miss for Leipzig shortly after his introduction.
His disappointing showing was summed up by one of his more ambitious efforts striking a cameraman on the back of the head.
Both teams face relegation-threatened sides as Leipzig travel to Mainz next Sunday and Freiburg host Werder Bremen a day earlier.
- Journalist at JJA Sport Studio: Football / Soccer
- Leader columnist department