It was a snowy Matchday 17 that greeted 2. Bundesliga fans, as the Hinrunde came to a close. Although goals were of short supply, there was no shortage of controversy, inspired defending and questionable refereeing decisions. With just 900 minutes of action separating us from the Winter Break, it is imperative to make the most of any action while it lasts.
Eintracht Braunschweig 0-0 Holstein Kiel
Kiel started out with the early openings, and were unfortunate not to take the lead when a tidy move saw Marvin Ducksch in on goal. However, the striker was denied by a strong right-hand from Jasmin Fejzic. Eintracht responded, with bicycle kick hero, Hendrick Zuck, heading a corner narrowly over the crossbar. Louis Samson then combined well with Quirin Moll to player the latter through, though Patrick Herrmann was on hand to make the all-important block. The remainder of the half provided little in the way of entertainment, but both sides goalless at the break.
After the restart, it was just as tight and as tense. Onel Hernandez and Suleiman Abdullahi threatened for the Lions but it was hard for either side to create an opening of any real quality when the midfield battle dominated the game. Late on, Markus Anfang’s men laid siege to the Braunschweig goal in the hope of grabbing a later winner. Yet Ducksch, Kingsley Schindler and Steven Lewerenz all failed to make the most of the chances that fell their way. Lewerenz came particularly close, but not close enough to edge the game in the Storks’ favour. A nil-nil outcome was certainly not a bad result for either side.
Erzgebirge Aue 1-0 SV Darmstadt 98
The pattern of this game was set out inside the opening 10 minutes. Daniel Heuer Fernandes had to be on top form to keep out Cebiou Soukou’s one-on-one opening, before tipping over Dennis Kempe’s header from the resulting corner. Albert Bunjaku was also thwarted by the Lilies’ stopper, who was keeping his side in with a fighting chance. However, a mistake from Hamit Altintop allowed Dimitrij Nazarov to dispossess him in the middle of the pitch. The Azerbaijani international fed Soukou in on goal, and finished with ease to give the Violets a deserved half-time lead.
After the break, the hosts kept up their pressure. Pascal Köpke had the chance to break his run of games without finding the back of the net, only to be denied by Heuer Fernandes once again when through on goal. Wilson Kamavuaka’s effort that was saved by Martin Männel represented some form of resistance, but it wasn’t long before Sören Bertram cracked the crossbar at the other end. Kamavuaka, Köpke and Nazarov were all unable to add their names to the scoresheet in the latter stages, as Aue claimed an important three points and condemned Darmstadt to an 11th game without a win.
1. FC Union Berlin 0-1 Dynamo Dresden
With André Hofschneider now at the helm, Union were hoping that he could get off to the perfect start against one of their former coaches, Uwe Neuhaus. Steven Skrzybski was installed into the starting side upon Hofschneider’s appointment and he was causing problems early on. Erich Berko came close in the opening quarter as well, but couldn’t hit the target when he met Haris Duljevic’s cross. Dynamo were the better side as the game went on but Skrzybski came closest to an opener before the break, whose header failed to find a way through.
After the restart, the continued pressure kept coming at both ends to no avail. In truth, it was a game where both sides really struggled to create the golden opportunity. Duljevic and Sebastian Polter came close to providing that opening goal, as did Dennis Daube at the wrong end. The breakthrough finally came with 20 minutes left when Felix Kroos’ attempted clearing header dropped straight at the feet of Andreas Lambertz, and Lumpi made no mistake in leathering the ball past Jakob Busk. That was the final major action in the game, as Union dropped further points in their bid for promotion.
Jahn Regensburg 0-1 VfL Bochum
Despite Bochum’s unbeaten run, it was the in-form Jahn who started brightest and Sargis Adamyan’s bicycle kick came close to giving them a spectacular opener. Despite that, the visitors hit back immediately and in style. Kevin Stöger’s through-ball found Robbie Kruse behind the home defence, and the Australian finished into the bottom corner. Achim Beierlorzer’s side continued to press but found Felix Dornebusch and Bastians in resilient form. However, Bochum could have been further ahead but for Pentke denying both Lukas Hinterseer and Stöger’s powerful drives.
In comparison to an all-action opening 45, the second was somewhat subdued. Jens Rasiejewski, first from signing on as the permanent head coach at VfL, saw his side defend confidently and resolutely when called upon. Jahn, on the other hand, struggled to make any headway going forward even after the introduction of Jann George for the injured Marc Lais. The final 10 minutes provided the most entertainment. Adamyan continued to be a thorn in Bochum’s side and it required a last-ditch clearance from Felix Bastians to secure all three points and a second win in a row.
SpVgg Greuther Fürth 1-0 1. FC Heidenheim
The Shamrocks required a good start to the game and set the tone early on. Khaled Narey has been relishing his more advanced role and crashed a header off the post. The rebound dropped to Jurgen Gjasula, who was spectacularly denied by Kevin Müller’s finger tip stop. Heidenheim grew into the contest and saw Maximilian Thiel volley inches wide of the upright, before Robert Glatzel brought Sascha Burchert into action. Fürth then grabbed the opener, as Gjasula picked up a loose ball in the box before crossing for Richard Magyar to power home a header at the back post.
Heidenheim could have levelled within 10 minutes of the restart as Arne Feick found himself in the penalty area, only to see Mario Maloca put in a brave block. From there, it was really just a case of Fürth trying to add to their total. Narey came close once more, before Müller was on hand to produce an excellent flying save to deny Julian Green’s header. Gjasula was thwarted by a Norman Theuerkauf block on the line before Green crashed a shot against the base of the post. There were no complaints from the hosts who ended FCH’s excellent run and brought themselves back into the relegation fight.
1. FC Kaiserslautern 1-1 FC Ingolstadt 04
Given how they had fallen further from safety after a set of rotten results, from their perspective anyway, it was vital that Kaiserslautern started well against Ingolstadt. That was not the case early on, as the Schanzer took the game straight to their hosts in the snow. The closest they came with Marvin Matip’s header, that saw Christopher Moritz head off the line. For that pressure, Ingolstadt got nothing and found themselves behind. Benjamin Kessel produced a fine cross from the right and Sebastian Andersson stooped to head home. Questions of whether he was onside or not were ignored.
That didn’t deter the Schanzer, who continued to come forward and could count themselves unlucky that Hauke Wahl’s apparent equaliser had been chalked off due to an incorrect offside call. The second half saw no change in the pattern of play, as Christian Träsch forced a good save out of the busy Marius Müller. Then came more controversy, as Kessel was wrongly sent off for a hard but fair tackle on Dario Lezcano. As fate would have it, Lezcano was the man who produced a fine turn and finish to grab an equaliser for the visitors. In truth, it was a game where both sides were left to bemoan refereeing decisions.
FC St. Pauli 2-2 MSV Duisburg
In Markus Kauczinski’s first game in charge of St. Pauli, there was no real shock that it was a tough and tense beginning for both sides. Both sides really struggled to get going but a set-piece provided the first real moment of worry for Kauczinski, as Dustin Bomheuer headed against the post. The breakthrough controversially came from the penalty spot, as Lukas Fröde was adjudged to have been fouled by Aziz Bouhaddouz. His arm was at his back, but the level of contact was debatable. There was no doubts over the resulting penalty with Kevin Wolze sending Robin Himmelmann the wrong way.
It was a much more exciting second half that would follow, although Duisburg were forced to take off Gerrit Nauber with injury at half-time. St. Pauli pressed hard and were rewarded before the hour-mark, as a loose ball in the box dropped for Waldemar Sobota to lash home. Just mere moments later, Mark Flekken caught Sami Allagui in the area and handed Lasse Sobiech the chance to put Pauli ahead from the spot.
He duly converted, and then the game took yet another twist. Aziz Bouhaddouz was shown a straight red card for playfully squirting water in Fröde’s face. Duisburg were in control from then on and could have levelled sooner than the 80th minute, had it not been for Himmelmann’s acrobatics. The resistance would be broken when Ahmet Engin chipped over the home stopper for Stanislav Iljutchenko to nod in on the goal-line.
SV Sandhausen 3-1 Arminia Bielefeld
Even though Sandhausen pushed their kick-off back by 15 minutes to accommodate the clearing of snow, the Baden-Württemberg side ploughed on through. It was clear from the outset that this game was not going to be one for the footballing purists, and that was quite understandable as the blizzard worsened throughout the half. Fabian Klos and Philipp Förster had moments of note, although to even call them that was kind. The best chance fell at the end of the first period, and to the feet of Lucas Höler. He thrashed home from five yards, volleying in Förster’s flick-on from a near-post corner.
After half-time, the hard work of stewards and one man in a suit managed to make the pitch ever so slightly more conducive to playing football. That helped Arminia get level, as Andreas Voglsammer latched onto Klos’ through ball to dance past the last man and fire past Marcel Schuhen. That joy would be short-lived and when Eroll Zejnullahu managed to find Richie Sakuta-Pasu, the forward made no mistake in applying the necessary finish. With both sides pushed to score the crucial fourth goal, it was Julian Derstroff who made sure of the result by threading past Stefan Ortega.
Fortuna Düsseldorf 0-2 1. FC Nürnberg
This game was a tale of two halves. Fortuna were the side who created the best chances in the opening 45 minutes, but had trouble when it came to converting them. René Rohde wasn’t helping matters, as a sprinkling of yellow cards left four Nürnberg left them walking a tight rope for the remainder of the game. The hosts came close through Niko Gießelmann’s early header, before Lukas Schmitz volleyed over at the back post. Benito Raman would have the best opening after a superb one-two with Rouwen Hennings, only for Fabian Bredlow to make the all-important intervention.
The second period brought with it an improved FCN, who were out to kill the game early on. They enjoyed all the play and created a great chance of their own when Tobias Werner was denied by Raphael Wolf, before Edgar Salli scooped over the rebound. The breakthrough did come midway through the half as Werner was on the end of a Georg Margreitter flick-on to volley home. Margreitter got a goal of his own 10 minutes later when he bulleted a header past Wolf from Enrico Valentini’s free-kick. Valentini was then wrongly penalised for tackling Raman in the area, though Bredlow’s save meant that justice was done and Michael Köllner’s men claimed all three points.