2. Bundesliga – Matchday 24 Review: Promotion picture widens once more

On a Matchday that was characterised by a certain error, there was plenty more than Mark Flekken’s unfortunate mishap. Red cards, drama, terrible refereeing decisions, goals and a comeback from three-nil down sounds more like it. Here’s how Matchday 24 panned out in 2. Bundesliga.

Arminia Bielefeld 2-3 Dynamo Dresden

The Bielefelder Alm was treated to an action packed start as Dynamo went in search of an early goal. Moussa Koné was a constant threat for the visitors and both he and Niklas Kreuzer had early shots off target. The pressure continued as Florian Ballas forced a superb stop from Stefan Ortega, while Erich Berko crashed an effort off the post. For all their dominance, it was Arminia who took the lead. Fabian Klos fed Florian Hartherz on the left, who produced a fine finish to beat Markus Schubert and cap off a superb counter. Ortega was busy just before the break, denying Koné once more.

Koné would finally get his goal just three minutes after the restart, as he subtly slid home Lucas Röser’s cool pass from 14 yards. The newly arrived forward continued to cause havoc and was involved in the second, as he and Tom Schütz tangled before the ball fell to Röser and he made no mistake from close range. Yet Arminia would fight back once again and they managed to get level when Kevin Staude was felled in the area, with Andreas Voglsammer doing the rest from the spot. However, Dynamo had the last laugh. Röser took aim from 30 yards, just three minutes after the equaliser, before curling a looping effort over Ortega to send the away end wild. Manuel Prietl cracked the post in added time, as Dynamo held on.

Jahn Regensburg 4-3 Fortuna Düsseldorf

If the game in Bielefeld was good, this was something else entirely. Fortuna took the lead inside three minutes as Oliver Fink played in Rouwen Hennings to power past Philipp Pentke. Takashi Usami then crossed brilliantly to the back post for Benito Raman to volley home, and two minutes later Usami raced onto a long ball from Florian Neuhaus to chip the oncoming Pentke. 15 minutes, three goals. It could have been even better as Usami failed to find a way past Pentke on the half hour. Despite that lightning start, that is where the game started to turn.

Marco Grüttner started the long road back to parity with a close range finish before Jonas Nietfeld’s touch and shot in one swift motion were that of a seasoned Bundesliga forward. Raman tried to emulate Usami and failed, bringing an end to a breathless first half. 15 minutes into the second period and the equaliser was found. Nietfeld was fouled by Adam Bodzek and Marvin Knoll did the rest from the spot. Five minutes later, the turnaround was fully complete. Sebastian Nachreiner’s long free-kick caught Fortuna napping and Sargis Adamyan, who was slightly offside, stole in to finish.

There were further chances for the hosts as Knoll hit the post and Grüttner fired wide, but they’d done enough to record yet another memorable comeback victory at home.

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1. FC Union Berlin 2-1 SV Sandhausen

Union were in need of a win after the disappointment of defeat in Braunschweig last weekend, and that was on the cards from the early minutes. Steven Skrzybski picked up a pass from Simon Hedlund and drove towards goal before firing low and hard at the near post, which fly under Marcel Schuhen; one that he certainly won’t wish to see again. The hosts had the bit between their teeth and added a quick second after Marc Torrejon crashed a header off the crossbar and Kristian Pedersen stabbed home. The remainder of the half was quiet, with Sandhausen struggling to get going.

That wasn’t the case after the break, however, as Richie Sakuta-Pasu fed Korbinian Vollmann to square across goal for a simple Philipp Förster tap-in. It was André Hofschneider who was now turning to his defence to put in a big showing as Kenan Kocak went for some attacking changes. Denis Linsmayer had two bites of the cherry inside the area within the same set-piece phase before the ball was then cleared off the line. Hedlund was denied in similar circumstances by Tim Kister as Hofschneider secured back-to-back home wins to put Union firmly in the promotion picture.

Erzgebirge Aue 2-1 1. FC Kaiserslautern

It was a must-win game for both sides coming into this tussle, and it was the Violets who got the perfect start. Christian Tiffert’s corner to the back post seemed to be missing everyone until Pascal Köpke popped up to volley home from close range. Lautern looked tired after their exertions in midweek and the lack of Brandon Borrello meant it was a relatively quiet first half for Aue’s defence. Ridge Munsy tested Marius Müller who was in for a busy afternoon, though neither he nor Mario Kvesic could find a way past the in-form visiting stopper.

Munsy had a great chance to double Aue’s lead just after the restart when a cross from the right picked him out unmarked at the far post, only to fire inexplicably over the crossbar. Stipe Vucur then thought he had brought Kaiserslautern level but saw his header ruled out for Osayamen Osawe being offside and in Martin Männel’s eyeline. Instead, one minute later, Munsy ran onto Tiffert’s through ball and beat two defenders to slot past Müller. Not long after Munsy was celebrating, Vucur managed to finally grab a goal of his own after nodding in Leon Guwara’s corner. Dominik Wydra, Cebio Soukou and Lukas Spalvis all had late opening, yet Hannes Drews was free to celebrate a vital win for his side.

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MSV Duisburg 2-1 FC Ingolstadt 04

Despite Duisburg starting well, Ingolstadt were handed the first major opening of the match when Thomas Blomeyer fouled Stefan Kutschke. The contact was debatable but the save from the resulting spot-kick was special, as Mark Flekken clipped the penalty onto the crossbar. From there, the Zebras countered to great effect and Dan-Patrick Poggenberg’s cut-back was slammed home by Ahmet Engin. While the earlier penalty was debatable, it was plausible. What followed in the next phase of play could be described as unbelievable.

First, Enis Hajri had a header ruled out for offside. Hajri wasn’t offside and nor was Stanislav Iljutchenko at the back post, who was judged to have been offside and that he got the final touch; neither were true. From there, Ingolstadt marched up the other end of the pitch with Duisburg still protesting with Johann Pfeifer. Flekken still hadn’t realised the game had restarted when Gerrit Nauber headed the ball back to him, and Stefan Kutschke marched through and tapped in to the disbelief of everyone around the stadium.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, things slowed after that but there was a red card just before the break. Almog Cohen’s high boot was correctly penalised by Pfeifer and the Israeli could have few arguments. Moritz Stoppelkamp failed to make the most of a good chance early on in the second half, while the same could also be said of Kutschke. The decisive moment came from another refereeing blunder. Ørjan Nyland was incorrectly judged to have fouled Iljutchenko when going for the ball in the air, and Pfeifer pointed to the spot. Boris Tashchy stepped up and converted to earn all three points on a hugely controversial afternoon.

SpVgg Greuther Fürth 2-1 Eintracht Braunschweig

It was a slow start to proceedings in Franconia as two sides who were in desperate search of a win went head-to-head. The first real opportunity produced the opening goal, as a clever and flat cross from Julian Green picked out Khaled Narey and he managed to beat Gustav Valsvik and deflect the ball home. Fürth had further chances but failed to capitalise and that finally woke Eintracht up. First Totte Nyman was brilliantly denied by Sascha Burchert before Domi Kumbela just about managed to not miss from a yard out, firing home Hendrick Zuck’s cross in off the bar.

The second half continued as an open and honest contest but one in which neither side was able to get the better of one another in, until later that is. The lively Green fired just wide from 20 yards before Burchert was again Torsten Lieberknecht’s nemesis, keeping out Kumbela twice in quick succession. Marco Caligiuri then passed up a huge opening before Fürth finally took the lead thanks to a superb pass from Jurgen Gjasula, who picked out Sebastian Ernst at the back post to slide home. It was a big win for Damir Buric and his Shamrocks that kept their heads above water.

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FC St. Pauli 3-2 Holstein Kiel

Sankt Pauli were desperate to continue their improvement after getting a slender win against Ingolstadt last weekend, and they began the right way against Kiel. Aziz Bouhaddouz’s early effort struck the post, and Richard Neudecker was on hand to stab the ball past the helpless Kenneth Kronholm. Yet that joy was short-lived as Lasse Sobiech clipped David Kinsombi in the area three minutes later, and Kingsley Schindler sent Robin Himmelmann the wrong way from 12 yards.

It looked like things had finally turned the corner for Kiel, too, when Marvin Ducksch fired under the home ‘keeper after beating Christopher Avevor. The visitors forced Himmelmann into two more excellent stops before half-time, in what was a hugely promising 45 minutes. Sankt Pauli’s only real answer was Neudecker’s free-kick that flew narrowly over.

Kiel continued their dominance after the restart and saw Himmelmann deny Patrick Herrmann’s effort from the edge of the area as Aaron Seydel and Schindler failed to make the most of excellent openings. Unfortunately for the Storks, they were made to pay. Bouhaddouz was the creator once more, although his flick to Neudecker was intentional, and the midfielder rifled home a stunning volley from 14 yards. The hosts weren’t finished and Avevor had the final say as his header evaded the attentions of Kronholm to bring Markus Kauczinski’s men to within three points of their opponents.

SV Darmstadt 98 1-1 1. FC Heidenheim

Much like in Hamburg, things started quickly in Darmstadt. Robert Glatzel’s early offside goal was quickly forgotten as Kevin Kraus connected with Nikola Dovedan’s ball into the box to beat Daniel Heuer Fernandes and give Heidenheim the lead. Things got even better for the visitors when Immanuel Höhn was shown a straight red card for bringing down Glatzel in on goal, though Arne Feick saw his free-kick tipped over superbly by Heuer Fernandes. After such a shaky beginning, the Lilies spent the remainder of the half trying to protect the deficit and regroup for the second period.

As has been the case several times this year, Dirk Schuster’s side have found themselves playing better as the game goes on. This turned out to be another one of those occasions as Ji Dong-Won and Felix Platte caused plenty of trouble in the early stages of the second half. Darmstadt did grab an equaliser on the hour mark, which was just reward for their efforts, as Tobias Kempe’s cross was powered home by Joevin Jones. Heidenheim came on strong in the later stages but some strong defending and goalkeeping meant that the spoils were shared come full time.

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VfL Bochum 0-0 1. FC Nürnberg

There had to be one. After all the entertainment, red cards and drama that summed up Matchday 24, Bochum managed to stay clear of everything. The game began slowly with Bochum having the majority of the possession but doing very little with that. Patrick Fabian’s header and Toto Losilla’s shots were all they had to show for a positive start, with Robin Dutt still searching for his first goal as head coach. That said, Nürnberg were largely comfortable and Tobias Werner was looking lively when the chance came his way. Despite the efforts of both, the first-half ended goalless.

After the break Bochum continued to look positive with both Sidney Sam and Danilo Soares looking particularly dangerous on the left. As Tim Leibold failed to take his chance, Fabian Bredlow denied Robert Tesche and Robbie Kruse in what was an encouraging performance after his mistake last weekend. Nürnberg also had chances to steal all three points with Werner firing over from close range before Federico Palacios-Martinez had his effort cleared off the line by Tim Hoogland. All in all, a draw was a very fair result.

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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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