Promoted Leipzig beats Bremen to move into second in Bundesliga
BERLIN (AP) — Davie Selke refused to celebrate despite playing a key role as Leipzig set a Bundesliga record to go second on Sunday after beating Werder Bremen 3–1.
Former Bremen striker Selke set one goal up and then sealed the win as Leipzig, the first side to remain unbeaten in its first eight Bundesliga games, closed to within two points of leader Bayern Munich.
"I've huge respect for Bremen. I know a lot of people there and I'm grateful to the club," said the 21-year-old Selke, who had been Bremen's great hope for the future before switching between the sides last year.
It was a record transfer for the second division, with Selke costing Leipzig a reported eight million euros ($9 million), rising to 10 million euros ($11 million) with add-ons.
Such is Leipzig's strength in depth this season—the club spent a reported 50 million euros ($55 million) in the summer—that Selke started on the bench against Bremen.
But the Germany youth international needed only three minutes after coming on with less than 20 minutes remaining to set up Naby Keita's second goal with a perfect cross.
Keita had broken the deadlock minutes before the break. The Guinea midfielder had a fortunate bounce of the ball to get past one defender, produced a quick turn of foot to go past another, and then rounded the goalkeeper to score from a closing angle.
One minute after Selke set up Keita's header, his Olympic teammate Serge Gnabry pulled one back for Bremen, sliding in to reach a cross after Ousman Manneh had surged through the middle.
But Selke killed any hopes of an equalizer with the third goal on a counterattack deep in injury time, ensuring Leipzig's remarkable run continued.
Leipzig had been the first promoted side to remain unbeaten after seven Bundesliga games since Kaiserslautern in 1997–98. 'Lautern, which lost its eighth game—3–1 at home to Bremen—went on to win the title that season.
Selke played down his side's title chances, however.
"I don't want to hear anything about it. We're a promoted side," he said. "It's gone well so far and we've got to try and keep it going."
Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick said talk of challenging Bayern was premature.
"I said before the season that the table can only be taken seriously after the 10th game. If we're still there after the 10th round then you can really say we're on the right path," Rangnick said.
Schalke 3, Mainz 0
After starting the league with five straight defeats, Schalke's second win comes as a welcome boost for new coach Markus Weinzierl and sporting director Christian Heidel, who was facing former side Mainz for the first time.
Another new face, Nabil Bentaleb, scored twice as Schalke escaped the relegation zone with its best performance of the season before next weekend's Ruhr derby against Borussia Dortmund.
Bentaleb opened the scoring midway through the first half, set up by Franco di Santo.
Di Santo also provided Max Meyer with his chance after the break, when the referee played the advantage after Gaetan Bussmann handled the ball, allowing the quick-thinking Argentine to pull the ball back for Meyer to strike.
Algeria midfielder Bentaleb wrapped up a comprehensive win with a deflected shot just after the hour mark.