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Leverkusen dismiss Toppmöller

Bayer 04 Leverkusen have sacked coach Klaus Toppmöller following a fifth successive defeat.

Champions League test
The move comes just two days before Leverkusen meet Newcastle United FC in the Champions League at the BayArena. Leverkusen need to win on Tuesday to preserve their chances of reaching the quarter-finals after losing their first two second group stage matches.

Run of defeats
Toppmöller's reign ended on Sunday after a run of five successive league defeats left Leverkusen in relegation trouble, fourth from bottom of the 1. Bundesliga. His final game in charge was Saturday's 2-1 home loss to FC Hansa Rostock.

'Rapid descent'
A club statement said: "We came to this conclusion after a long negative series of results and our rapid descent in Bundesliga. We regret the decision because Klaus Toppmöller led the club into the international spotlight last season. But because of our precarious situation, no other choice remained for us." The club added that Toppmöller would receive six months' salary in compensation.

Hörster takes over
Leverkusen confirmed that Thomas Hörster, coach of the club's regional league team, would take over on a caretaker basis for an unspecified period. Hörster, 46, made over 330 Bundesliga appearances between 1979 and 1991 and was capped twice by the Federal Republic of Germany.

Appointment delayed
Club managing director Reiner Calmund suggested that no appointment would be made until after next Sunday's league match against fellow strugglers Hannover 96. "The probability is high that Hörster will remain in charge at least until after the Hannover [96] game," he said.

Treble anguish
Toppmöller took Leverkusen to the brink of an unprecedented treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup last season, only to fall at the final hurdle on each occasion.

Awards and accolades
Nevertheless, his achievement in guiding the club to unparalleled heights in their history saw him finish runner-up in the UEFA coach of the season awards for 2001/2002 and nominated in the coach category in the uefa.com users' Team of the Year for 2002. He was also voted German trainer of the year for 2002.

Key duo depart
This term, though, Leverkusen have struggled to build on that success. Toppmöller had to cope with the loss of Michael Ballack and Zé Roberto, who both left for FC Bayern München in the summer. Toppmöller is the second Bundesliga coach to be sacked this season, following Andreas Brehme's departure from 1. FC Kaiserslautern.