After suffering their first league defeat of 2015 last weekend against Wolfsburg and being dumped out of the cup in midweek, Werder got themselves back to winning ways with a 1-0 win away at SC Freiburg thanks to a first-half goal from Franco Di Santo.
The Werder faithful were keen to put the Pokal debacle at the hands of Dritte Liga Arminia Bielefeld behind them as they travelled south to face SC Freiburg at the Schwarzwald Stadion.
The draw with Schalke and the loss to Wolfsburg had interrupted a winning sequence for Viktor Skripnik’s side and it was important to get three points under their belts once more.
Raphael Wolf kept his place in goal, while Philipp Bargfrede made a return to the midfield. Davie Selke dropped to the bench with Fin Bartels partnering Di Santo in attack. Leven Öztunali, impressive against Wolfsburg, kept his place in the starting XI.
An open start to the encounter saw both sides keen to attack with Werder as per usual looking dangerous fro set-pieces and the hosts probing down the left. The best chance of the first half fell to Freiburg with Jonathan Schmid denied by a parry from Wolf.
Werder striker Di Santo then went from agony to ecstasy in the space of seven minutes. First the Argentine picked up an unnecessary booking meaning he will miss next week’s home clash with Bayern Munich.
However, that disappointment was made up for with a goal on 35 minutes. It really was a touch of genuine class and an early contender for ‘Goal of the Month’ There looked little danger as he received the ball on the left corner of the Freiburg area, but when Immanuel Höhn afforded him a little too much space and time, the attacking wizard curled an exquisite effort into the far corner of Roman Bürki’s net.
The second period understandably saw the Breisgauer on the front foot looking for the equaliser and Werder’s defensive abilities were tested. Fortunately the pairing of Yannik Vestergaard and Sebastian Prödl stood fast ably assisted by the midfield shield of Bargfrede.
Cedrick Makiadi was introduced to add more defensive steel, but the Congolese midfielder almost made an impact at the other end as he very nearly grabbed a late second goal for the visitors.
By no means was it a dominant performance from Werder Bremen with the hosts edging the stats in terms of possession and passes made, but the all-important fact is that they scored while Freiburg didn’t.
Sometimes a win is more important than the manner in which it is achieved and following back-to-back losses perhaps this was the case for the Grün-Weißen this afternoon.
The quality of Di Santo ultimately was the difference. He’s now scored 12 goals in 17 appearances putting him just one behind Wolfsburg’s goal-machine Bas Dost and fourth overall in the scoring charts. He will be sorely missed next week at the Weser Stadion when Bayern are the visitors.
Goalkeeper Wolf had a largely quiet game, but when called upon he saved well from a second-half free kick from Schmid and also denied Admir Mehmedi two minutes from time.
Three more important points in the bag, which is just as well bearing in mind who next week’s opponents are. Franco Di Santo take a bow, but man oh man how we could have done with you against the Bavarian juggernaut next Saturday.
SC Freiburg: Bürki – Sorg, Höhn (Kempf 46), Krmas, C. Günter – Schuster (Franz 53), Darida – Klaus, Mehmedi – Schmid, Philipp (Schahin 85)
Werder Bremen: Wolf – Gebre Selassie, Prödl, Vestergaard, Garcia – Bargfrede – Fritz, Junuzovic (Kroos 90) – Öztunali (Makiadi 68) – Bartels – di Santo (Selke 84)
0-1 di Santo (35)
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