2. Bundesliga – Matchday 15 Review: Relegation battle beginning to heat up

Last weekend was always going to be hard to top but, at least in some respects, Matchday 15 went above and beyond. With just three games containing less than two goals, grab a cuppa and read up on what was another goal-filled, action-packed nine matches of 2. Bundesliga goodness.

1. FC Union Berlin 3-3 SV Darmstadt 98

Proceedings started slowly on a chilly Berlin evening, with little in the way of chances. Simon Hedlund was, however, looking lively on the left.The end of the half provided the entertainment, as Union went ahead in style. Well, at least the build-up was slick. Kristian Pedersen picked the ball up and danced through the defence before setting the ball for Grischa Promel. His effort was tame and slipped past debutant Florian Stritzel. Darmstadt almost found a late response to that goal, only to see Jakob Busk pull off a fine save from Terrence Boyd’s header.

If the first half lacked in entertainment, the second served it up in bucketfuls. The Lilies struck the first blow just as the game was getting back underway, as Wilson Kamavuaka somehow managed to slip the ball to Boyd and the forward did the rest. Union hit back immediately when Aytac Sulu handled in the area, with Sebastian Polter converting from the spot. Yet, just three minutes later, Boyd found himself on the end of Markus Steinhöfer’s cross to restore parity again.

When Marvin Mehlem was fouled and Tobias Kempe scored from the spot, things looked rosy. Union had other ideas and, in the final 10 seconds of added time, Fabian Holland’s clearance off the line hit Jan Rosenthal in the face and the ball fell into his own net. A spectacular end to a spectacular game, in which a draw was a fair result.

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SV Sandhausen 1-2 1. FC Heidenheim

Similar to the other Friday night encounter, it took a while for things to liven up at the Hardtwaldstadion. Lucas Höler and Nejmeddin Daghfous eventually lived things up for the hosts, as Kevin Müller stood firm for Heidenheim. Tim Knipping broke his resistance midway through the first half, however, as he managed to fire the ball home from close range after Tim Kister kept the ball alive. Heidenheim were cursing their luck at the break, when a superb free-kick from Arne Feick had Marcel Schuhen beaten but his effort struck the upright.

Heidenheim would not be halted, and Robert Glatzel fired them level three minutes after the restart. He picked the ball up 25 yards from goal and sent a brisk drive into the bottom corner with relative ease. Sandhausen were afforded an opportunity to regain the lead mere moments later from the penalty spot, though Müller continued his heroics and kicked Richie Sakuta-Pasu’s penalty to safety. The game lulled after that but was brought back to life by John Verhoek’s fine finish from Marc Schnatterer’s pin-point ball over the top. Tim Kister hit the post late on, as Heidenheim claimed the win.

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Eintracht Braunschweig 2-3 1. FC Nürnberg

With Eintracht changing to a slightly more defensive shape for this game, chances were few and far between in the first half. Both teams were doing their utmost to find a breakthrough but were stuttering when the key moment came. FCN looked slightly more dangerous and Hanno Behrens had been denied by Jasmin Fejzic from close range. However, the Bosnian stopper couldn’t repeat the feat as  Behrens bulleted home a header from Enrico Valentini’s corner. The hosts responded in a super ball across goal from Jan Hochscheidt picked out Salim Khelifi to slot through Fabian Bredlow’s legs.

Kevin Möhwald was on form at the start of the second period but couldn’t capitalise on two good opportunities early on. Khelifi was still causing problems at the other end, as Georg Margreitter was forced to clear his effort off the line. The Lions would take the lead after the improvement in performance, with Suleiman Abdullahi finding the top corner from just outside the area with a fantastic effort. Yet Nürnberg turned the tables, and Mikael Ishak brought the Franconian outfit level four minutes later. The Swede would also score the winner, somehow guiding Ondrej Petrak’s header over Fejzic and into the top corner in style.

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Holstein Kiel 0-0 FC Ingolstadt 04

The big game of the weekend, in terms of the table at least, started with a huge chance for Kiel. Steven Lewerenz was handed the opportunity to break the deadlock inside the first minute but failed to apply the necessary finish. From there, a rather ambitious Marvin Ducksch half-volley aside, it was largely Ingolstadt’s game. They found it hard to create against a strong Stork defence, though Alfredo Morales kept Kenneth Kronholm on his toes from just outside the area. Hauke Wahl nearly scored a spectacular effort from even further out, only for Kronholm to palm the ball over once more.

There was no change in the second half, as Kiel were forced back to do more than their fair share of defending. Dominik Schmidt and Rafael Czichos put in several last-ditch challenges, though it was also a case of Ingolstadt failing to take their chances or pick out the key pass when it mattered most. Wahl was involved in the best chance of the game, as Marvin Matip’s knockdown fell perfectly for the defender. He only needed to make solid contact but failed to do so, as Kronholm easily gathered. The Schanzer could have taken all three points, yet a draw was no bad result for either side.

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Jahn Regensburg 4-0 MSV Duisburg

Given that both these sides had been enjoying good form as promoted sides, it was expected to be a close game. However, just eight minutes in, Marco Grüttner pounced brilliantly on Dustin Bomheuer’s attempted block to swivel and fire past Mark Flekken. Philipp Pentke was the busier of the two goalkeepers as Duisburg responded well, though the Zebras would be hit as they built up as head of steam. A quick move forward found Sargis Adamyan, who played the ball onto Jonas Nietfeld to curl brilliantly around Flekken.

Things got even worse for the visitors before the break, when another incisive passing play ended with Grüttner slipping the ball into Marc Lais’ path to finish with ease. Given the score at half-time, it was no surprise that the second half provided little if any entertainment. Jahn were comfortably the better side, and finally found a fourth goal to crown a quite incredible win. Marvin Knoll’s corner was met by Joshua Mees and the substitute made no mistake with his header to continue Achim Beierlorzer’s revival of late.

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1. FC Kaiserslautern 0-2 Arminia Bielefeld

Kaiserslautern started strong in the game, only to find it incredibly difficult to find a way past a strong Bielefeld back-line. At the other end, it was a poor mistake from Patrick Ziegler that allowed Andreas Voglsammer to test Marius Müller for the first time. Ziegler’s partner in defensive crimes, Stipe Vucur got in on the action not long after and allowed Voglsammer to pick up a long ball and fire into the bottom corner from the edge of the area. The remainder of the half was kind to Arminia, who were never truly stretched by their hosts.

The restart brought little change in the pattern of the game, as Manuel Prietl was the latest player to test Müller. His header was routinely saved, though the FCK stopper was left hoping that Voglsammer’s excellent volleyed effort went off target moments later. Kaiserslautern upped the pressure but were unable to really given Stefan Ortega a save of note to make during the entire game. Konstantin Kerschbaumer piled further misery on the home support at the death, he was the beneficiary of some excellent play by Patrick Weihrauch to fire home and seal a deserved win.

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Erzgebirge Aue 1-1 VfL Bochum

Another game, another start where Bochum failed to wake up in the early stages. Aue would be more than happy to take full advantage of that, as former VfL man, Christian Tiffert did superbly well to pick up Clemens Fandrich who duly did the rest. This turned out to be exactly what the away side needed, as they eventually got going. Lukas Hinterseer was denied by Martin Mannel, and they became increasingly dangerous towards the end of the first period. That’s when Felix Bastians grabbed the equaliser, as he tapped in from close range following Vitaly Janelt’s cross.

It was a slow going after the restart, although Aue were comfortably the better team when going forward. Dimitrij Nazarov was out to hurt Bochum on his first game back from suspension, though he failed to really stretch Manuel Riemann. He did, however, bump into the visiting stopper and force him off to be replaced by Felix Dornebusch. The Violets continued to push forward into the latter stages, with Nazarov still causing havoc. Yet Dornebusch remained steady and calm in goal, securing a fourth draw in a row for the Ruhrpott club.

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SpVgg Greuther Fürth 4-0 FC St. Pauli

The visitors began strongly at the Ronhof but had little to show for their early efforts, and were roundly punished for the remainder of the game for not making more of their chances. Fürth really took charge of the game after that and were unlucky not to go ahead when Khaled Narey fired just wide and was then denied by Robin Himmelmann’s boot. However, the St. Pauli stopper was beaten on the half hour as David Raum fed Maxi Wittek to fire under the keeper’s body. Raum then went on a great run of his own, before producing a perfect curling finish from 20 yards on the stroke of half-time.

It never got any better for St. Pauli after the restart, with Maurice Litka and Aziz Bouhaddouz coming closest throughout the half. The latter was denied by a strong Sascha Burchert stop, but not before Bernd Nehrig had been sent off for his second bookable offence. The Shamrocks showed no mercy, and Patrick Sontheimer played his part to set up a goal for the deserving Narey. Raum was also involved in the fourth and final goal of the day, as he exchanged a clever one-two with Julian Green to score his first goal in Green-White and cap off a memorable afternoon.

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Fortuna Düsseldorf 1-3 Dynamo Dresden

Neither side were in particularly impressive form coming into this game, but the table was quickly turned on its head. Within 10 minutes, Fortuna had found themselves 0-3 down. The scoring began when Philip Heise’s corner was met by the unmarked Marco Hartmann in the middle, to bullet a header past Raphael Wolf. The ‘keeper didn’t have a chance to stop Lucas Röser’s rasping drive from 20 yards, that arrowed into the top corner. Nor could Wolf do anything when Haris Duljevic cut inside and made Röser’s strike look tame with an even better effort from further out.

Fortuna were not deterred and Takashi Usami rattled the bar with real force just after Dynamo’s third, with Oliver Fink also going close. Benito Raman looked to be setting about sparking a comeback when he latched onto Paul Seguin’s poor back header to score. It was all set up for a grandstand second half but proved to be anything but. The early flurry of activity was followed by little other than Fortuna threatening at range. Dynamo were comfortable in securing their clinical away win and easing the pressure slightly on Uwe Neuhaus.

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Jonathan Walsh

Jonny is a 2. Bundesliga fanatic who does little else with his time other than follow, watch, write about, think about, and promote his favorite league. When he isn't in university or trying to defend the Bundesliga's 50+1 rule, you'll most likely find him watching whatever football he can find on TV. Follow him @jonathanwalsh_

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