Berlin: Leipzig seemed to enjoy playing in an empty stadium with no protesters as they routed host Mainz 5-0 to move third in the Bundesliga on Sunday. Germany forward Timo Werner scored a hat trick.
Leipzig have got used to protests from rival fans due to their support from backer Red Bull. The energy drinks manufacturer founded the club in 2009 and helped finance their steady progress through the lower leagues to the Bundesliga. Many fans object to what they claim is a distortion of fair competition. Leipzig players have been regularly whistled at away grounds, and Union Berlin supporters even held a "funeral march" for football before their team's game in Leipzig earlier this season.
But supporters have been banned from Bundesliga games for the rest of the season in a bid to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The league resumed amid strict hygiene measures last weekend.
Werner opened the scoring in the 11th minute, and there were more goals from Yussuf Poulsen and Marcel Sabitzer before the break. Werner grabbed two more in the second half.
Leipzig, which beat Mainz 8-0 in front of its own fans earlier this season, took advantage of Borussia Monchengladbach's 3-1 loss at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday as it stayed three points behind second-place Borussia Dortmund. Fourth-place Leverkusen is a point behind Leipzig, with Gladbach a point further back, in the race for Champions League qualification. The top four qualify in Germany.
After waiting 75 days, Heiko Herrlich finally made his debut in charge of Augsburg in a 3-0 win at Schalke earlier Sunday.
Herrlich had been due to make his Augsburg debut as the league resumed from its coronavirus-induced two-month break, but he broke quarantine restrictions to buy toiletries just days before and had to watch from afar as his side was beaten 2-1 at home by Wolfsburg.
Herrlich was only allowed to return to lead the side after twice testing negative for COVID-19.
He could hardly have had a better start against Schalke in Gelsenkirchen, where again the game was played without any fans present.
Eduard Lowen opened the scoring with a fine free-kick in the sixth minute, Noah Joel Sarenren Bazee punished a defensive error in the 76th and Sergio Cordova wrapped up Augsburg's win in injury time.
Schalke was one of the clubs threatened financially by the league's suspension, but David Wagner's team has now conceded seven goals in two games since its resumption after the 4-0 derby defeat at Borussia Dortmund.
Cologne salvage 2-2 draw again Fortuna
Late headers by substitute Anthony Modeste and allowed Cologne to salvage a 2-2 home draw against Fortuna Duessledorf in the Bundesliga after Mark Uth had missed a penalty for the hosts.
The result put Cologne 10th on 34 points from 27 games while Fortuna stayed 16th on 24 points, three adrift of the safety zone after 15th-placed Mainz had earlier suffered a 5-0 home drubbing by RB Leipzig.
The home side had more possession in the first half but Fortuna always looked more likely to score and Kenan Karaman fired them ahead in the 41st minute with a deflected shot from inside the penalty area.
Uth twice hit the post in quick succession and was bundled over in the ensuing goalmouth scramble in the 57th minute, but Fortuna keeper Florian Kastenmeier saved his poor spot kick.
Cologne were punished soon after as Erik Thommy capped a sweeping move with a sweet first-time shot from 13 metres, threading the ball into the far corner beyond keeper Timo Horn.
With the match played behind closed doors in line with COVID-19 precautions, the front rows in the Rhein Energie stadium were decorated with Cologne fan merchandise and the team shirts finally seemed to inspire the hosts late in the game.
Modeste pulled one back in the 88th minute when he rose above his marker to head a cross by substitute Dominick Drexler from the right into the far corner, rekindling their hopes of coming away with something from a drab performance.
With time running out, Drexler floated in another superb cross from the right and Cordoba steered a downward header into the ground and up into the roof of the net in stoppage time.
With inputs from AP and Reuters