With the season drawing to the closing stages, the race to grasp the spots that entitle teams to European participation next season and the fight to avoid relegation heats up at either end of the table. Nonetheless, the headline story of the matchday remained at the top of the standings, as Bayern München continued their slump since wrapping up the league title with an underwhelming home defeat in Der Klassiker to second-placed Borussia Dortmund. Schalke kicked-off the weekend’s action in high with a thoroughly-deserved victory against Eintracht Frankfurt, while Hoffenheim also secured a comfortable home win against Augsburg in the closing encounter of the matchday. Bayer Leverkusen returned to fourth place by defeating fellow strugglers Hertha Berlin, as Wolfsburg also kept up their ambition of returning to Europe’s elite tournament with a comeback win against Nürnberg. Werder Bremen suffered a slight setback in their survival quest after conceding three first-half goals at Mainz, while Stuttgart had to be content with a point from their trip to Borussia Mönchengladbach. Hannover and Freiburg picked up priceless three points in the relegation deciders at the expense of Hamburg and Eintracht Braunschweig respectively.
Dortmund claim moral-boosting victory against Champions
Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund faced each other in Saturday’s evening match after waving the Bundesliga flag high in their respective Champions League quarter-final ties in midweek.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan squandered the best opportunities against Real Madrid but he quickly made amends with a well-taken strike to open the scoring against Bayern in the fight for pride between the top two Bundesliga teams. Marco Reus and Jonas Hofmann capped fine performances with a goal each to hand debutant goalkeeper Lukas Raeder a night to forget, who entered after replacing the injured Manuel Neuer in the half-time break. Bayern are now sweating over Neuer’s fitness, as his substitute Tom Starke has already been ruled out until the end of the season through injury. Bayern will go into next week’s match at Eintracht Braunschweig collecting fewer points than in the last three league matches than their bottom-of-the-table opposition. As for Jürgen Klopp’s troops, they maintained healthy distance from third-place Schalke and remained Bayern’s bogey team in the league (only one defeat from the last eight). The sides might end up playing each other again in the DFB-Pokal but first they have to avoid late upsets in the semifinals, as Bayern take on 1. FC Kaiserslautern while Borussia Dortmund faces a tricky tie against Wolfsburg.
Wolfsburg and Bayer win in race for fourth, Lewandowski’s debut
Wolfsburg will target revenge against the Yellow-Blacks in the sides’ midweek Pokal meeting after falling short in their recent trip to Dortmund. Dieter Hecking’s side built on their momentum in the league against hapless Nürnberg this weekend, as Croatian duo Ivan Perišić and Ivica Olić were both on target and Kevin de Bruyne pulled the strings from the middle of the pitch.
Wolfsburg’s climb to fourth in the standings was a short-lived one, though, as Sascha Lewandowski was able to register three points in his first match since taking over Bayer’s managerial seat from his former colleague Sami Hyypiä. Stefan Kießling scored the fastest goal of the season before youngster Julian Brandt extended their lead against Hertha Berlin, who only managed a consolation goal through Sandro Wagner in a goals-galore first-half.
Borussia Park a fortress no more
Borussia Mönchengladbach were in fourth place last week, but they showed once again their home is no longer a fortress comparing to the flawless Hinrunde by dropping two points in the hard-fought match against Stuttgart, although it rather felt like one point gained for Lucien Favre’s side since they only got the equalizing goal two minutes from time thanks to Juan Arango’s header. Daniel Didavi opened the scoring for the Swabians, and they could have easily put the game beyond the guests’ reach before conceding the heartbreaking late equalizer.
HSV lose in Slomka return; four way clash to avoid the drop?
Hamburg also conceded late against Hannover, as the Reds salvaged crucial win in their quest of avoiding the drop. Hakan Çalhanoğlu once again showcased his free-kick skills to cancel out skipper Lars Stindl’s opener, but Didier Ya Konan had the last say scoring from Hamburg’s loanee Artjoms Rudņevs’ deflected effort.
Mirko Slomka’s defeat in his return to HDI-Arena leaves HSV in the relegation-playoff spot sandwiched in between Stuttgart and Nürnberg, with only two points separating the sides. Eintracht Braunschweig are finding it hard to escape the bottom of the pile, even though recent results are keeping their survival bid alive, this week only a point shy of sixteenth-placed Nürnberg. The Lions’ impressive unbeaten record came to an end at the weekend with defeat by Freiburg, who continued their push to safety with another vital win against direct rivals.
Hoffe victorious in 200th league match
More than anything, goals are guaranteed in Hoffenheim’s fixtures this season, as they have been one of the entertaining sides in the Bundesliga this season. The Sinsheim club played a milestone 200th Bundesliga match on Sunday against Augsburg – who were fresh from ending Bayern München’s unbeaten streak. Two first-half goals, including Sejad Salihović’s second goal from a direct free-kick in three matches secured a win in the mid-table clash.
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