After securing their first point in an impressive display against RB Leipzig on matchday 2, Fortuna Düsseldorf picked up their first win of the new Bundesliga season at home to Hoffenheim. Friedhelm Funkel, 33 years older than his counterpart Julian Nagelsmann, saw his side largely outplayed in the first half, but emerging with a 1-0 lead. A late headed goal from US midfielder Alfredo Morales gave Fortuna the lead against the run of play. Indeed, they should have been well behind such were the chances Hoffenheim created.
The visitors did finally convert one of their opportunities with substitute Reiss Nelson firing in the equaliser in the 86th minute. Düsseldorf however didn’t let their heads drop and were rewarded with a penalty two minutes later after a clumsy challenge from Kevin Vogt on Kenan Karaman was punished.
Belgian substitute Dodi Lukebakio kept his cool to fire home the spot-kick and send the 40,000 crowd inside the Merkur Arena wild as they celebrated their first three points in the top flight since 16th February 2013.
Anyone foolish enough to leave a stadium a bit early to beat the rush would have been left rueing their decision as matchday 3 delivered a glut of dramatic, late goals- eight of the nineteen goals scored on Saturday came from the 86th minute onwards.
As mentioned, Düsseldorf and Hoffenheim gave the fans late drama and that was repeated over at the Volkswagen Arena as two of the Bundesliga’s unbeaten sides met. Hertha Berlin thought they had clinched a third win when Ondrej Duda produced some more free-kick magic in the 91st minute. With giants Wout Wehorst, Daniel Ginczek and John Anthony Broks in the defensive wall, the Hertha midfielder audaciously fired the ball under the jumping wall to seemingly give Pal Dardai’s side a 2-1 win.
Not so, as VfL Wolfsburg still had the time to move the ball deep into Hertha territory and substitute Admir Mehmedi was on hand to rifle in a 93rd minute equaliser to keep both side’s unbeaten runs intact.
Fans at the Opel Arena in Mainz saw three goals in the final ten minutes as the Nullfünfer maintained their unbeaten start to the new season. Augsburg thought they had snatched a win when Korean Ji Dong-Won fired in an impressive shot in the 81st minute, but Mainz dug in and scrapped their way to the victory.
A very untidy goal, as a result of a goalmouth scramble, saw Anthony Ujah equalise in the 87th minute, before Alexandru Maxim was able to score in the 93rd minute with a right-foot shot.
Bayern strolled to their third win on the bounce at home to Leverkusen, but didn’t score the third goal their dominance deserved until James Rodriguez popped up in the 89th minute to heap yet more misery on a woeful Werkself.
And talking of misery, the fact that Breel Embolo produced a fantastic finish in the 93rd minute at the Borussia Park counted for very little as Schalke slumped to yet another defeat. There was one final last-gasp goal on Sunday as Nürnberg remarkably staged a late comeback to stun a Werder Bremen side, who should have put the game away much earlier.
So the advice to anyone visiting the Bundesliga……don’t leave early!
After a very disappointing World Cup in Russia and a slow start to the new Bundesliga season, it was good to see Timo Werner back amongst the goals on matchday 3. With the German national team not exactly spoilt for choice in the striking department it is very important for Joachim Löw (and RB) that Werner rediscovers the form from Leipzig’s first season in the top flight.
Against Hannover, he benefitted from receiving great service for both his well-taken goals with Emil Forsberg providing the assists. The Swede was one of Leipzig’s top players in 2016-17, but had gone off the boil last season and for the start of the new campaign.
If he and others can provide the ammunition, then Werner should start banging in the goals with regularity and see Leipzig move up the table into the top four.
The English Connection
The importation of talented youngsters from England has been a noticeable feature of the Bundesliga in recent seasons and two of them made a real impression this weekend. Reiss Nelson made his first appearance as a second half substitute for Hoffenheim after arriving on loan from Arsenal, and scored their equaliser against Düsseldorf.
More impressive though was the impact made by his compatriot Jadon Sancho over at Borussia Dortmund. With Christian Pulisic once again missing through injury, it was a slight surprise that the young wideman only made the bench at home to Eintracht Frankfurt, but when called upon in the second half, he proved decisive.
His introduction in the 58th minute as a replacement for the injured Jacob Bruun Larsen corresponded with a much more attack-minded approach from BVB. His direct run in the 68th minute saw him take out two Frankfurt defenders before setting-up Marius Wolf for his goal that restored Dortmund’s lead.
The more Sancho plays, the more impressive he looks and Lucien Favre is going to face a real selection headache in the coming weeks. There are plenty of options for the Schwarzgelben coach in the final third, but Sancho’s talent is such that he needs to be on the pitch.
Many people’s tip for relegation find themselves unbeaten after three games, two points behind Bayern Munich and seven points ahead of both Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen- so that’s two early season fingers up to the doubters from Mainz.
Sandro Schwarz’s side may have lost key men during the summer but based on their early season form, you wouldn’t have noticed. Yes, it is a long season, but the Nullfünfer have set out their stall and sent out a message they are not just going to be the Bundesliga’s whipping boys.
Bayern cruised to a third successive win in the Bundesliga to maintain Niko Kovac’s 100% start, but there was a black cloud hanging over the Allianz Arena despite the win with the injury to Corentin Tolisso.
The French midfielder had equalised for Bayern with a well-taken finish in the 10th minute, but was forced off injured three minutes before half-time following a challenge from Kevin Volland. The club confirmed the worst announcing the French World Cup winner had suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and would be out for “several months”.
It is a huge blow for the player and Bayern so early in the new season. To add to their injury woes, fullback Rafinha also suffered ankle ligament damage and will be on the sidelines for a number of weeks. Having sold Arturo Vidal, Sebastian Rudy and Juan Bernat in the transfer window, these are two positions Bayern really didn’t want to be picking up long-term injuries in.
Leverkusen and Schalke
After zero points from the opening two matches, both Schalke and Bayer Leverkuen needed a positive reaction, but both ended the weekend with a third straight defeat and more questions than answers.
Bayer Leverkusen got off to a flying start against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena with a penalty (after a second bite of the cherry) with just five minutes on the clock. That unfortunately was it though from the Werkself as they failed to provide any other attacking impulses in the entire game. The Bavarians didn’t have to move out of second gear to win 3-1 and Heiko Herrlich will be feeling the heat even more following this insipid display.
Domenico Tedesco will also be scratching his head as he sits on Sunday evening with zero points at the bottom of the table. He has a to plan for Tuesday’s arrival of Porto in the Champions League, but he has more than a few problems to sort out as the Vizemeister continue to stutter at the start of the season.
Some Bundesliga debuts go like a dream, and then there are others that you’d rather forget and unfortunately for Schalke’s Hamza Mendyl, his first appearance for the Königsblauen falls in the latter category.
The Moroccan was handed a first appearance by Domenico Tedesco, but was booked on 22 minutes for a reckless foul on Thorgan Hazard. Clearly pumped up, he then produced a second clumsy foul a minute later on Nico Elvedi which could and perhaps should have brought a second yellow and a subsequent red.
He escaped the wrath of referee Manuel Gräfe, but Tedesco reacted by taking the debutant off before he was sent-off.
You would expect a striker, who had recently played in the World Cup final to be able to tap a ball in from two yards out, but Hoffenheim’s Andrej Kramaric proved that wasn’t the case with a horrendous miss against Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Hoffenheim were extremely wasteful, but with three games gone, the Croatian is the early leader in the ‘worst miss of the season’ standings.
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