BERLIN — Leipzig seemed to enjoy playing in an empty stadium with no protesters as it routed host Mainz 5-0 to move third in the Bundesliga on Sunday. Germany forward Timo Werner scored a hat trick.
Leipzig has got used to protests from rival fans due to its support from backer Red Bull. The energy drinks manufacturer founded the club in 2009 and helped finance its 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 soccer 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 Mönchengladbach’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.