2. Bundesliga – Matchday 23 Review: Nürnberg go top as Kiel stutter once more

After missing the chance to do so last weekend, Nürnberg were not going to turn down a second opportunity as they went to the summit of 2. Bundesliga. It was a Matchday of few goals but one which saw mid-table bunch up even more, and now just three points separate Kiel in third from Dynamo in 13th.

1. FC Heidenheim 1-0 VfL Bochum

The Robin Dutt era had got off to the perfect start when Lukas Hinterseer thundered home Kevin Stöger’s cut-back, only for an incorrect offside decision to cut-short their joy. Bochum continued to enjoy the better of the play in the first-half but were finding Kevin Müller’s rearguard action increasingly frustrating. The injustice of a disallowed goal only grew when Marc Schnatterer’s cross was clipped past Manuel Riemann by John Verhoek to give the hosts the lead. Dutt’s men continued to threaten, though Müller denied both Sidney Sam and Hinterseer.

After the restart, Heidenheim were more purposeful and determined to give their defence some respite. That came largely in the form of crosses and set-pieces, as Schnatterer forced Riemann to peddle backwards and tip over his cross-cum-shot. Schnatterer’s delivery then picked out Timo Beermann and Nikola Dovedan but for both to send their headed efforts narrowly off target. Bochum would have the final chance in the game as Johannes Wurtz headed towards goals, yet Müller managed to get a strong hand to the ball and brought his side further away from their opponents and relegation.

1. FC Kaiserslautern 0-1 SV Sandhausen

Kaiserslautern were keen to continue their excellent form from there previous two games but found it hard going in the early stages against Sandhausen. The visitors showed promise in the early stages with Haji Wright having to replace the influential Nejmeddin Daghfous at the last minute. Lukas Spalvis had the first chance of the game and found a worthy adversary in Marcel Schuhen, who did well to push the ball away. That proved to be the only shot that worked either ‘keeper to any degree in the first period, as it ended goalless.

Sandhausen set out to change all that after the break as they began to take control of the game. That wasn’t before Spalvis headed Brandon Borrello’s cross wide, though Ali Ibrahimaj came off the bench and his first touch forced an excellent save from Marius Müller. Richie Sakuta-Pasu failed to make good connect as his shot slid wide of the upright, before another scuffed strike found the bottom corner. Philipp Förster’s somehow found a way past Müller from 18 yards and, try as they might, Lautern failed to find a response as they suffered a first defeat under Michael Frontzeck.

Arminia Bielefeld 2-0 SV Darmstadt 98

Things began slowly in Bielefeld and both sides were happy to try and gauge one another before proceedings kicked-off in earnest after 15 minutes. Florian Hartherz and Artur Sobiech exchanged opportunities, with neither coming to much. The breakthrough came on the half hour after Stefan Ortega had done brilliantly well to parry Ji Dong-Won’s header. Instead of a follow-up, Arminia broke quickly and Andreas Voglsammer played in Patrick Weihrauch to finish off a clinical counter. Julian Börner had a chance to add to that lead before the break, only to fail when it came to making clean contact.

Darmstadt and Dirk Schuster came out in search of a response and the lively Felix Platte certainly kept the home defence honest and on their toes. Sadly, however, his finishing was lacking and Ji still struggled to find a way past Ortega when one-on-one. After that flurry, Arminia came strong again and saw Konstantin Kerschbaumer rattle the post before several other chances went begging. Yet it was the Austria who killed the game off with the final kick of the game, as he converted from Fabian Klos’ pass across goal. There wasn’t much between the two sides, but clinical finishing proved the difference.

FC Ingolstadt 04 0-1 FC St. Pauli

This first half was nothing to get all that excited about, aside from the snow that made watching a rather uneventful game even more challenging. While things were still manageable before the red paint and orange ball had to come out, St. Pauli made the major opening count. Waldemar Sobota threaded Richard Neudecker in on goal, and the midfielder managed to pick out Sami Allagui in front of goal to tap-in from close range. Dario Lezcano eventually offered a response from the hosts but for Robin Himmelmann to come out on top.

If the first period was dull, the second was even less entertaining. Sonny Kittel fired into the side-netting early on as a sign of intent, yet the remainder of the half brought little in the way of chances. The game did bring back-to-back clean sheets for the Kiezkickers, the first time they’d accomplished that feat since Matchday 4 and 5. Ingolstadt continued to look toothless up front and, despite having a few penalty appeals waved away, rarely troubled Himmelmann. Kauczinski can take renewed faith from the game, bringing a three-match winless run to an end.

Fortuna Düsseldorf 1-1 SpVgg Greuther Fürth

Fürth, buoyed by their victory over Dynamo last time out, wasted no time in getting going against Fortuna. After just 10 minutes, Maximilian Wittek’s free-kick caused havoc and managed to find a way in from an almost impossible angle that left Raphael Wolf helpless. That did follow from a period of dominance from the hosts, who had cracked the post, though were unable to take advantage. Oliver Fink and Julian Schauerte had the key chances following the Shamrocks’ opener, with Sascha Burchert able to bail his defence out when required.

Damir Buric’s men were relatively sturdy in the opening 15 minutes of the second half, with Kaan Ayhan’s header and free-kick proving to be the only real threat Fortuna could muster. Yet a counter would prove to be the breaking point as Friedhelm Funkel finally got his team to up the pace. Jean Zimmer’s pass was brought down into the path of Takashi Usami by Havard Nielsen, and the Japanese international scythed home in style. Fürth did have the chance to win the game late on but Serdar Dursun’s header was weak and Wolf was able to gather. A draw wasn’t unfair on either side.

Holstein Kiel 2-2 Erzgebirge Aue

Given how tough things have been for the Storks recently, despite still sitting in third with their rotten run, Markus Anfang got the shot in the arm his side needed early on. Dominick Drexler managed to find a way behind the Aue defence before teeing up Marvin Ducksch to slot home. He got in on the act himself just 10 minutes later, volleying home from close range after Rafael Czichos had flicked on a corner. That was as good as it got for the hosts, however, as the Violets came racing back into the game.

That was thanks to a debatable Malcolm Cacutalua goal as he appeared to dislodge the ball from Kenneth Kronholm’s hands, although the goalkeeper could have been stronger. It went from bad to worse as well, when Cacutalua looped a 18-yard header over the Kiel stopper to score his second in three minutes and level the game. What continued into the second half was a pulsating tussle that saw both teams go close but neither able to quite find the way through that won them the game. Kiel’s wait for a win ran into a 10th game, yet this is a result that Aue can take real confidence from.

1. FC Nürnberg 3-1 MSV Duisburg

Michael Köllner knew a win would take his side top of the table, and the Franconians got the start they craved. Nico Klotz tripped Tobias Werner going away from goal in the area, Hanno Behrens made no mistake from the resulting penalty. That was the first real opening of the game, and the hosts were just as clinical with their second. Hanno Behrens got on the end of Federico Palacios Martinez’s pass as his scuffed shot got the better of Mark Flekken. Duisburg did get one back before the break, however, as Fabian Bredlow somehow let Moritz Stoppelkamp’s skidding effort into the bottom corner.

The second half saw Duisburg on top for large period as Fabian Schnellhardt, Stoppelkamp and Ahmet Engin all went close in the early knockings after the restart. That said, Nürnberg were able to make the odd foray forward and made sure of the three points thanks to Eduard Löwen. The man who can do it all further proved his technical credentials by volleying a dropping ball into the bottom corner from 20-yards. Nürnberg were relatively comfortable in the latter stages as clinical finishing was once again the deciding factor this weekend, taking them above Fortuna on goal difference.

Dynamo Dresden 1-0 Jahn Regensburg

On a day where defences were on top in Dresden, it was tough going for both sides as they tried to move forward in the opening half hour. Chances were extremely limited in the first period and neither Jahn or Dynamo were able to make any of their movement into promising positions count. Sargis Adamyan and Marvin Knoll threatened to go close but Markus Schubert was largely untroubled. Philipp Pentke was a mere spectator at the other end, in what was a forgettable first half for all in the DDV-Stadion.

Cometh the hour, cometh Moussa Koné. Or half-time, in his case. The introduction of the forward during the break immediately caused problems as he sent a half-volley narrowly wide of the post. Dynamo kept pushing and after their best attempts had failed, some rather unorthodox defending came to their aid. Try as they might, Jahn couldn’t clear the ball for love nor money and Lucas Röser was able to play in Erich Berko to finish. Schubert managed to deny Marco Grüttner late on to ensure Dynamo held on for what was a deserved win based on their second half showing.

Eintracht Braunschweig 1-0 1. FC Union Berlin

With what has been a topsy-turvy few weeks for the hosts, a solid start was needed. However, they got more than they bargained for in the 16th minute when Ken Reichel wasn’t closed down by Union, and he proceeded to fire into the bottom corner from 20 yards. Daniel Mesenhöler came to the visitors’ rescue midway through the half as he tipped over Domi Kumbela’s effort before Union’s first chance saw Frederik Tingager clear off the line. Mesenhöler had to be on his toes right to the end of the first period, when he also kept out Hendrick Zuck.

The break brought with it no change for Union, aside from the fact that they were able to subdue Braunschweig. The lack of Felix Kroos in midfield meant there was little in the way of continuity between defence and attack, while a hard-working performance from Torsten Lieberknecht’s men was telling. Mesenhöler continued to deny Kumbela while Jasmin Fejzic’s late save to deny Sebastian Polter proved to be his only telling action of the afternoon. It was relief for the hosts as the full time whistle went, who are now in a position to finally kick on and move up the table.

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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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