2. Bundesliga – Matchday 20 Review: Battle to beat the drop heats up

With the games coming thick and fast in the English week, teams have had little chance to react or turn things around from their midweek exploits. The table is starting to take shape at the top, yet the battle at the bottom shows no sign of easing up.

1. FC Union Berlin 0-1 1. FC Nürnberg

The visitors came into the game in better form, despite also having drawn the last game two-all, and found themselves ahead early on. Enrico Valentini’s delivery proved crucial once more, with a fine header by Ewerton opening the scoring. From there on Union had more of the play in the first half but were unable to make it count. Akaki Gogia was extremely lively when coming in off the wing and brought a magnificent save from Fabian Bredlow with a rasping drive. André Hofschneider’s men pushed forward yet were again thwarted when Eduard Löwen blocked from Sebastian Polter.

As far as meaningful chances went, the vast majority of those came and went before the break. After the restart Nürnberg set up with a solid defensive shape and continually thwarted and frustrated the Union attack. It was by no means a classic but Michael Köllner had come for the win and was prepared to put trust in his defence to do just that. The biggest talking point of the second period involved three red cards in the space of six minutes, as Philipp Hosiner and Edgar Salli were given their marching orders after a needless scuffle. That wasn’t before Toni Leistner was sent off for a second bookable offence, in what was another forgettable day for the capital club.

Jahn Regensburg 3-2 FC Ingolstadt 04

Friday night’s other game provided more in the way of entertainment, yet the opening goal was another header from a corner. Thomas Pledl’s ball to the back post was confidently headed home by Alfredo Morales in just the third minute. That was the wake-up call that was needed, despite Philipp Pentke having to remain alert, as Jahn came back into the contest. Sargis Adamyan was causing the bulk of the problems only for things to hit a snag. Pentke came out to try and curtail Robert Leipertz, only to catch the attacker’s boot. Dario Lezcano stepped up in his usual, relaxed fashion to slot home.

Achim Beierlorzer’s men were not downtrodden after the interval and were able to turn on the style once Sebastian Stolze came off the bench. The hosts immediately had a new energy and his cross was deflected into the Ingolstadt goal by Hauke Wahl to start the comeback. It must be noted that Sonny Kittel missed two great chances to put the game to bed in a crazy 16-minute spell, which then saw Stolze arrive at the back post to put the finishing touch on a move himself. His volley from Marco Grüttner’s flick-on left an air of inevitability about a third goal, which Jonas Nietfeld duly provided. The forward’s cool head off the bench was just what was required to secure the win from Marvin Knoll’s cute pass.

1. FC Kaiserslautern 1-3 Fortuna Düsseldorf

The traditional duel wasn’t much of a spectacle early on, with chances limited in what was a tough midfield battle on a tricky pitch on the Betzenberg. Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker hit the post but that was pulled back for offside, while Fortuna then began to take control. Jann Zimmer fired into the side netting as Genki Haraguchi looked menacing once more. Niko Gießelmann came closest of all, with his rasping curler flying just past the outside of the post. It was a half of little promise, yet Lautern were happy with their defensive effort.

The second half brought the entertainment and, more importantly, the goals the game had been lacking. Kaiserslautern’s dogged performance was rewarded when Benito Raman tripped Philipp Mwene in the area. Christoph Moritz made no mistake from the spot, and suddenly things were looking up. Yet when Marius Müller was sent off for tripping Haraguchi and the Japanese did the dutiful from 12 yards, there was only ever going to be one outcome. It wasn’t until 12 minutes before the end that Raman’s moment of magic stunned everyone, curling home from 16 yards after a mazy run. Things were sealed by Lukas Schmitz at the death, with Fortuna’s march to the Bundesliga looking set to continue.

MSV Duisburg 3-3 1. FC Heidenheim

Duisburg were under pressure from the get-go, much like the game against Bochum, but were punished this time around. A knock-down from Robert Glatzel left Maximilian Thiel the time and space needed to fire past Mark Flekken. It wasn’t long before the Zebras were level, however, as Arne Feick’s clumsy trip on Ahmet Engin allowed Kevin Wolze to slot home from 12 yards. Yet Heidenheim responded themselves, with Marc Schnatterer picking out the bottom corner from 25 yards. Things got even worse when Dustin Bomheuer put through his own goal when Kevin Müller had made a simply spectacular stop at the other end.

The second half picked up where the first left off, and Wolze’s knack of finding the back of the net also kept going. The left-back took aim from 25 yards and sent a sweet half-volley into the top corner, leaving Müller’s despairing dive well short of his superb effort. Heidenheim seemed happy with their lot at that stage and began to drop deeper, letting Duisburg dictate the play. That was a strategy that worked well up until the final minute, where a lapse in concentration proved costly. Cauly Oliveira Souza’s cross to the back post was turned in by Kingsley Onuegbu for a deserved share of the spoils.

SpVgg Greuther Fürth 0-0 Holstein Kiel

With the entertainment and story-lines that came out of the Saturday games, Fürth’s clash with Kiel couldn’t live up to the others. Marvin Ducksch’s early diving header had promised much but instead it turned out to be a rather turgid tussle between two sides who looked tired from their midweek exploits. The Shamrocks offered some late attacking threat late on but such was the nature of the game that it was of little note. Lukas Kruse was the happiest man on the pitch, given that his debut for the Storks ended with a clean sheet. Otherwise, it was not a game that will live long in the memory.

Erzgebirge Aue 1-3 Eintracht Braunschweig

Both sides threatened to cause trouble early on with some speculative efforts, and there followed two goals in two minutes. Pascal Köpke grabbed the opener after a stunning ball over the top from Clemens Fandrich, leaving the forward to race through and slot home. Eintracht didn’t hold back and Jan Hochscheidt quickly fed Suleiman Abdullahi to fire under Martin Männel’s desperate dive. Dimitrij Nazarov and Fandrich did their utmost to give the Violets the lead again, only to see Domi Kumbela roll back the years and produce a vintage finish to turn the game on its head.

Ridge Munsy and Sören Bertram were brought off the bench to spark some sort of turnaround for Hannes Drews, only for them to face a stubborn and stoic Braunschweig defence. Their chances to impress were limited and even when someone did get a shot off on goal, Jasmin Fejzic provided capable hands behind the backline. The visitors would go on to claim all three points when Hochscheidt’s long ball was chased down by Abdullahi, and he held off the Aue defence to blast past Männel. Torsten Lieberknecht admitted, after the game, that the win had saved his job.


FC St. Pauli 0-1 SV Darmstadt 98

Sankt Pauli were lively from the get-go and had the first real chance of the game, as good work in midfield allowed Sami Allagui to feed Enver Cenk Sahin. However, the latter failed to provide the necessary finish. To add insult to injury, Darmstadt went straight up the other end and Joevin Jones was afforded time and space to find the bottom corner from 20 yards. The Lilies went back into their shell after that and Aziz Bouhaddouz almost forced an immediate equaliser but for Daniel Heuer Fernandes. Allagui also had two golden opportunities, only to fail when it came to the final touch.

The second half was more even and Darmstadt could and should have put the game beyond doubt from two set-pieces. Peter Niemeyer’s turn-and-shot was halted by a timely block from Robin Himmelmann, while Aytac Sulu failed to make the stopper work from Tobias Kempe’s cross. The hosts weren’t without their chances as Allagui was denied by Heuer Fernandes and the German-Portuguese made an even better stop to haul Richard Neudecker’s header off the line. It was Darmstadt back to their gritty, determined best.

SV Sandhausen 1-0 Dynamo Dresden

The initial phases of play, or at least the first 60 minutes of the match, were somewhat forgettable. Sandhausen made the early running and came close twice in quick succession to an opening goal, though Philipp Förster and Tim Kister failed to convert. Dynamo were largely subdued and found it hard going against a well-organised Sandhausen side that only got tougher when Haris Duljevic was given a second yellow card for a high boot on Kister. The attacker was far from pleased yet Benedikt Kempkes was left with little option.

A game that looked destined for a draw took life in the final 10 minutes. Sandhausen finally broke Dynamo’s resolve as Denis Linsmayer slid to fire into the top corner from Philipp Klingmann’s cut-back. Richie Sakuta-Pasu was almost made to pay for a late miss but instead the hosts somehow cleared Lucas Röser’s effort off the line before Peniel Mlapa accidentally got himself in the way of Marcel Franke’s goal-bound volley. A comical end to a game that put Sandhausen on the coattails of the top three.

VfL Bochum 0-1 Arminia Bielefeld

Despite Bielefeld being in a better position than Bochum coming into the game, they were keen to come forward on the break and could have had an early lead. Andreas Voglsammer’s ball to the back post was met by Patrick Weihrauch, though his header was comfortable for Felix Dornebusch. Otherwise, it was an unfortunate half for the hosts. Robbie Kruse went twice on two occasions and also had a goal chalked off for offside. Replays showed that the Australian was in-line with the final defender, and the Ruhrpott club could feel hard done by.

The second half brought more Bochum pressure but the lack of a finishing continued to cost them. Kevin Stöger’s effort was brilliantly blocked by Konstantin Kerschbaumer, before Weihrauch headed narrowly wide. The breakthrough finally came when Luke Hemmerich committed a foul on the edge of the area, and Florian Hartherz’s free-kick looped over the wall and straight into the top corner. Anthony Losilla couldn’t convert when it mattered most as he hit Stefan Ortega square in the face before heading over at the death. An important win for Arminia, but Bochum are in real trouble.

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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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