Fans return to Bundesliga games for first time since March

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BERLIN (AP) — Supporters returned to the Bundesliga for the first time since coronavirus restrictions began in March but none of them saw their teams win opening games of the new season on Saturday.

No away fans were allowed across the league as strict measures against the coronavirus remained in place.

It meant Arminia Bielefeld faced 6,500 Eintracht Frankfurt supporters as it held on for a 1-1 draw on its return to the top tier in Germany after an 11-year absence. Midfielder Cebio Soukou scored for Bielefeld in the 51st minute, before André Silva equalized in the 62nd.

Some 8,000 fans were allowed to watch promoted Stuttgart’s return against Freiburg, only for the team to lose 3-2 despite a late fightback.

Union Berlin lost 3-1 at home to Augsburg, Cologne was beaten 3-2 at home by Hoffenheim, and Hertha Berlin coasted to a 4-1 win at Werder Bremen.

Plans to have fans at Cologne’s game against Hoffenheim were shelved due to a rise in coronavirus infections locally.

Former Union goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz helped Augsburg win in front of 5,000 fans in Köpenick with a brilliant reflex save to deny Cedric Teuchert a late equalizer before André Hahn sealed the visitors’ win.

Gikiewicz had received a warm reception before kickoff. The fans then cheered their new goalkeeper, Andreas Luthe, who made the switch in the opposite direction.

Ruben Vargas scored with Augsburg’s first chance in the 41st.

Former Germany striker Max Kruse came on in the 71st for his Union debut, but it was another forward, Marius Bülter, who finally equalized in the 74th, finishing off a low cross from Christopher Lenz.

Bülter almost set up another minutes later, then won a corner as the home side pushed for more.

But Michael Gregoritsch scored against the run of play for Augsburg in the 82nd, and Gikiewicz’s brilliant save denied his former team.

Borussia Dortmund hosts Borussia Mönchengladbach later Saturday.

Eight-time defending champion Bayern Munich got the league underway with an 8-0 rout of Schalke on Friday without fans.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

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