Lewandowski earns Dortmund a 1-0 win over Cologne

BERLIN (AP) — Robert Lewandowski's first-half goal earned Bundesliga leader Borussia Dortmund a 1-0 win over Cologne on Friday with the team missing a host of other chances to score.

Lewandowski scored in the 44th minute, the Polish striker getting ahead of Kevin Pezzoni to shoot the ball in off the post past goalkeeper Michael Rensing.

Lucas Barrios struck the crossbar in the 79th, and Nuri Sahin hit the bar again in the 84th from Dortmund's 21st shot on target.

Miso Brecko almost nicked an equalizer in the 89th, the Cologne defender hitting the side-netting from 15 meters (yards).

"The team continues turning the big wheel and then you have a game like this, one of the most deserved 1-0 wins of all time," Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp said.

After 25 games, Dortmund has 61 points, 15 more than second-place Bayer Leverkusen, which hosts Wolfsburg on Saturday.

"The dream goes on," Sahin said.

Cologne has 29 points and remains provisionally 11th.

"We were under a lot of pressure. The bottom line is that we also take positives from the game," Cologne coach Frank Schaefer said.

Rensing produced a string of fine saves to deny Dortmund throughout the game.

His first came in the 10th minute, denying Neven Subotic's 35-meter effort from a free kick, a minute after Milivoje Novakovic had tested Roman Weidenfeller at the other end.

Pezzoni cleared off the line minutes later after Barrios slipped the ball past Rensing following some great work from Sven Bender.

Dortmund went close from two corners by Mario Goetze in quick succession. Felipe Santana's header was blocked on the line by Rensing in the 31st, and Barrios headed over a minute later.

Dortmund defender Santana, on in place of the injured Mats Hummels, failed to get to Goetze's free kick in the 41st with the goal at his mercy.

Pezzoni was caught ball-watching when Lewandowski got ahead of him to score before the interval.

A rare defensive mix up gave Novakovic the chance to equalize after the break, when Weidenfeller nicked the ball from the Slovenian's feet.

Rensing's flying save denied Kevin Grosskreutz in the 51st, and the attacker went close again moments later.

Cologne's best chance came five minutes later, when Novakovic beat the offside trap and scooped the ball wide with only Weidenfeller to beat.

Rensing was alert to knock over Lewandowski's effort, and produced another great save to deny Subotic from the resulting corner.

Dortmund continued to create chance after chance, but lacked the killer punch up front. Lewandowski wasted another opportunity before Nuri Sahin fired wide in the 66th.

Rensing blocked Santana after another corner from Goetze in the 71st, when Novakovic cleared off the line, and Grosskreutz fired another effort over.

Lewandowski rounded Rensing moments later, only for the goalkeeper to recover with an incredible one-handed save.

It was two against one defender in the 84th, when Lewandowski lost the chance with a poor pass to Barrios.

Barrios has hit the post or crossbar eight times this season. He was first to hit the crossbar before Sahin's late effort.

It was a nervy finish from the home side, with Brecko failing to punish Dortmund's missed opportunities.

"It's bizarre that we only won 1-0," Hummels said.

Standings Saturday in the Bundesliga:

Team GP W D L GF GA Pts

Borussia Dortmund 25 19 4 2 53 14 61

Bayer Leverkusen 24 13 7 4 50 34 46

Hannover 24 14 2 8 34 31 44

Bayern Munich 24 12 6 6 50 30 42

Mainz 24 13 1 10 37 30 40

Hamburg 24 11 4 9 35 32 37

Freiburg 24 11 4 9 31 31 37

Nuremberg 24 10 6 8 34 32 36

Hoffenheim 24 8 9 7 41 35 33

Schalke 24 8 6 10 29 29 30

Cologne 25 8 5 12 31 43 29

St. Pauli 24 8 4 12 27 38 28

Eintracht Frankfurt 24 8 3 13 24 34 27

Wolfsburg 24 6 8 10 29 34 26

Werder Bremen 24 6 7 11 30 50 25

Kaiserslautern 24 6 6 12 33 42 24

Stuttgart 24 6 4 14 42 47 22

Moenchengladbach 24 5 4 15 35 59 19

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