Leipzig, Germany, Dec 17 – RB Leipzig knocked Bayern Munich, who they meet in five days’ time, off the top of the Bundesliga on Saturday with a 2-0 win at home to Hertha Berlin.
With Bayern at bottom side Darmstadt on Sunday, Leipzig took their chance to reclaim top spot with a convincing win at their sold-out Red Bull Arena.
Leipzig, who had led for three weeks before last Saturday, are now three points clear.
However, Carlo Ancelotti’s Munich can regain top spot due to their superior goal difference by beating Darmstadt, ahead of Wednesday’s mouth-watering clash against Leipzig at the Allianz Arena.
Goals either side of the break by striker Timo Werner and burly centre-back and captain Willi Orban sealed Leipzig’s win.
It put RB back on track after last Saturday’s shock 1-0 defeat at Ingolstadt which ended their 13-match unbeaten run — a record for a team at the start of their first Bundesliga season.
“I said after the (Ingolstadt) defeat that I wanted to see a reaction and my team didn’t disappoint. We showed what we wanted from the first second,” said Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl.
Berlin coach Pal Dardai, whose side are fourth, admitted: “Leipzig were a bit too quick for us.”
RB went ahead when Guinea midfielder Naby Keita, who later went off with a leg injury and is set to miss the Bayern game, played Werner into the box to dart between two defenders and slot home on 41 minutes.
It was the ninth goal in 15 games for RB’s top scorer.
Werner was shown a yellow against Hertha for play-acting when he went to the turf after being blocked by Berlin’s centre-back Jens Hegeler on 59 minutes.
Leipzig sealed the win on 62 minutes when Orban got on the end of Emil Forsberg’s corner kick and powered his header home, giving Hertha goalkeeper Rune Jarstein little chance.
Orban looked to have claimed his second on 78 minutes, but the linesman flagged with three Leipzig players offside.
Elsewhere, Mainz midfielder Danny Latza hit a hat-trick in his team’s 3-1 home win over strugglers Hamburg.
Augsburg’s caretaker-coach Manuel Baum got off to winning start as Martin Hinteregger scored from a corner in their 1-0 home home over Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Ex-Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry rescued a point for Werder Bremen with his sixth league goal this season in their 1-1 draw with Cologne to cancel out Artjoms Rudnevs’ goal.
Ukrainian winger Yevhen Konoplyanka netted for Schalke in their 1-1 draw with Freiburg.
Want-away Germany star Julian Draxler returned to Wolfsburg’s line-up, having been dropped for their previous two games, to inspire a 1-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt, who had their nine-match unbeaten run ended.
It was Draxler’s precise corner kick which Dutch defender Jeffrey Bruma headed home on 33 minutes for his club’s first win in five games, but the attacking midfielder is expected to leave in January’s transfer window.
Frankfurt’s hot-shot Alex Meier fired a penalty over the bar midway through the second-half.
This was Eintracht’s first defeat since October 1 to leave them sixth while Wolfsburg are just above the bottom three.
On Friday, 10-man Borussia Dortmund earned a 2-2 draw at Hoffenheim as the league’s top scorer, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, netted their second-half equaliser for his 16th goal of the season.
Hoffenheim remain the only unbeaten team in Germany’s top flight this season while Dortmund had Germany winger Marco Reus sent off for a second booking in the first half.