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Bayern's titles hopes almost gone
Updated: 2004-04-18 11:23

Bayern Munich's slim hopes of retaining the Bundesliga title almost vanished with a 2-0 defeat at arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund on Saturday.

The second-placed champions, who were already two goals down when they had playmaker Michael Ballack sent off for a second booking in the 68th minute, stay seven points behind leaders Werder Bremen.

Bayern will find it tough to catch the northerners, who will move 10 points clear with five matches left if they beat Hanover 96 on Sunday.

Brazilian striker Ewerthon put Dortmund in the lead against the run of play by converting a debatable penalty in the 55th minute.

Germany defender Christian Woerns completed the victory when he volleyed home from inside the box six minutes later.

The 83,000 fans packing Dortmund's stadium suffered until the penalty, awarded for a challenge on striker Salvatore Gambino by Bayern defender Hasan Salihamidzic which looked fair from television replays.

The visitors then collapsed and the Bayern players started looking nervous, particularly Ballack, who had already been booked for contesting a refereeing decision when he received his marching orders after a dangerous tackle on Gambino.

"We were the better side in the first half but taking the lead liberated Dortmund and after Ballack's sending off it became very difficult for us," said Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.

Dortmund coach Matthias Sammer, whose team climb to fifth to stay on course for a UEFA Cup berth, said top games were often tense.

"When you have two teams with roughly the same strength playing each other, then you will always half a few controversial scenes," he said. "We played well in the second half."

Bayern, at risk of ending the season without a title after making early exits from the Champions League and the German Cup, now face a battle to secure second place and direct access to the Champions League.

Third-placed VfB Stuttgart moved just two points behind Bayern with a 3-1 win over strugglers Eintracht Frankfurt.

Germany striker Kevin Kuranyi showed Stuttgart the way to their third consecutive victory. Goals from Belarus midfielder Alexander Gleb and defender Marcelo Bordon followed before midfielder Alexander Schur pulled one back for Eintracht, who stay second from bottom.

TSV 1860 Munich dropped to fourth from bottom with a 2-1 home defeat by Hamburg SV after which coach Falko Goetz was sacked. His successor will be appointed on Sunday.

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