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FOOTBALL

Nuremberg jolt Hamburg's title bid

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Doll's team failed to cut Bayern's nine-point lead in the Bundesliga

BERLIN, Germany -- Hamburg's title hopes were severely hit as struggling Nuremberg came from behind to win 2-1 and leave Thomas Doll's team nine points behind leaders Bayern Munich.

But Nuremberg's Slovakia international striker Marek Mintal broke his left foot in his first game back from the same injury.

Doll handed debuts to Dutch international Nigel de Jong and on-loan Brazilian striker Ailton, but late strikes from Ivan Saenko and Stefan Kiessling gave Nuremberg victory.

Nuremberg paid a heavy price for the win.

Mintal, last season's top Bundesliga scorer, was injured only three minutes into the game. He broke the foot four months ago during training.

He was taken to hospital, and a metal plate was being inserted to stabilize the break.

Japan's Naohiro Takahara was Hamburg's main threat in the early stages.

He forced a smart save from Nuremberg keeper Raphael Schaefer in the 24th minute and Stefan Beinlich went close with a long-range effort but there was little else of note from Hamburg before the opening goal.

There appeared to be little danger when Petr Trochowski broke down the right and sent in a hard low cross, aimed at no one in particular, but Andreas Wolf mistimed his clearance and sent the ball spinning past his own goalkeeper.

Nuremberg had a spot of luck of their own as they grabbed the equaliser three minutes later, with Saenko's shot from outside the box taking a big deflection on its way in.

Nuremberg grew in confidence and were soon ahead. Markus Schroth lost the ball on the edge of the area under challenge from two Hamburg defenders but Kiessling was on hand to collect and blast past Stefan Waechter.

With 17 minutes gone Takahara forced a fine double save from goalkeeper Raphael Schafer before Iran midfielder Mehdi Mahdavikia fired over with the goal at his mercy.

Werder Bremen, humiliated by regional side FC St Paul in their midweek cup match, can leapfrog Hamburg into second if they win at Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday.

It looks like no-one can catch Bayern who swatted aside Gladbach 3-1 on Friday to pick up their 15th win in 18 Bundesliga outings.

Wolfsburg manager Klaus Augenthaler tasted defeat in his first match in charge as Borussia Dortmund won 3-2.

Jurgen Kohler, like Augenthaler a 1990 World Cup winner, was also making his managerial debut at Duisburg and fared better with a vital 1-0 win at Stuttgart.

Stuttgart old boy Marco Caligiuri scored the goal in the 43rd minute although promoted Duisburg remain in the bottom three because of Nuremberg's win.

Meanwhile, Bayer Leverkusen beat Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1, with goalkeeper Hans-Joerg Butt stroking in the winning penalty in the 74th minute.

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