Classy Cruyff turns, horrific injuries and wondrous goals were there for all to see in the twelfth round of fixtures in Germany’s Bundesliga, writes Callum Connolly.
Schalke took on much fancied Wolfsburg at the Veltins Arena, Bayern faced Hoffenheim at the top of the table, whilst Hannover battled Leverkusen with both sides vying for a place in Europe next season.
Mainz’s inconsistent season continued as they failed to beat SC Freiburg at home, Stefan Bell rescuing a late point after goals from Jonathan Schmid, who contributed his second goal in as many games following his fine effort against Schalke, and Admir Mehmedi had put Christian Streich’s side ahead after Costa Rica star Junior Diaz’s strike from a Johannes Geis free kick had beaten Roman Bürki in the first half.
Bayern romped home against a high placed “challenger” for Munich’s throne in Hoffenheim. A stunning finish from Mario Goetze, one from summer signing Robert Lewandowski, another from Arjen Robben, a sublime lofted effort over despairing away ‘keeper Oli Baumann, and the cherry on top of a very delicious cake came from substitute Sebastian Rode.
Adam Szalai was sent off in the dying moments of the game to conclude a miserable afternoon for TSG. There was even some room for a spectacular Cruyff turn from Manuel Neuer in an attempt to add some enjoyment to his relaxed game. Bayern goalkeepers seem to have a tendency to do amusing things when they’re bored, Sepp Maier once chased a duck around his penalty box during a comfortable rout of Bochum in the 1970s.
Whilst there was a return of a hero in Bastian Schweinsteiger for Bayern, a loss of one (again) for Borussia Dortmund occured in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at surprise new package SC Paderborn. Die Borussen raced into a 2-0 lead before the break, with goals from Aubameyang and Marco Reus, but the latter suffered another ligament tear in his ankle that will rule him out at least until the new year if not longer; this demoralised Klopp’s charges.
Lukas Rupp and substitute Mahir Saglik snatched a point for Paderborn and two from Dortmund. Reus collecting another injury, another poor result and a return to the dreaded relegation zone, can things get much worse for Jürgen Klopp?
With Hoffenheim losing to the leaders, Mönchengladbach and Wolfsburg would have been looking to maintain their game of catch-up with Guardiola’s giants, however they too suffered draining defeats to Eintracht Frankfurt and Schalke. Lucien Favre’s Foals raced into an early lead, Norwegian Havard Nordtveit adding to his goal for his country in midweek with a well placed finish in the opening five minutes, but his side had Yann Sommer to thank (not for the first time this season) in preventing Frankfurt from equalising.
Inevitably, that equaliser did come from Marc Stendara, the German U19 international having a day to remember by firing home his first ever Bundesliga goal. Alex Meier and Takashi Inui killed ‘Gladbach off in a strong second half display for the Eagles.
Eric Maxim Choupo Mouting’s smart brace and a free kick from Christian Fuchs gave Roberto Di Matteo a broad smile on his face 25 minutes into Schalke’s narrow win over the Wolves.
A 3-0 scoreline seemingly ending the game prematurely, however Ivica Olic gave Wolfsburg some hope with a goal before the half time whistle, and Nicklas Bendtner ensured a nervy finish on 72’, finishing through the legs of Faehrmann. Naldo then smashed a header off the cross bar from a Kevin de Bruyne cross in injury time, but the Royal Blues held out for an outstanding victory.
Highlights of that game can be viewed here:
Bayer Leverkusen headed to the HDI-Arena facing a stern test against Hannover 96. Tayfun Korkut has done remarkably well since taking the reins from Mirko Slomka last season, inheriting an uninspiring and dull team and transforming them into the exciting outfit containing the likes of Hiroshi Kiyotake, signed in the summer from relegated Nuremberg, Leo Bittencourt and Joselu, with Andreas Hoffmann to return at some point in the season from injury, certainly one to watch.
Roger Schmidt’s side overcame some of their critics, at least for now with a convincing 3-1 victory. Stefan Kiessling, reliable for a hard shift up front, but not always getting his just rewards in terms of hitting the back of the net, put Leverkusen in the lead. South Korean Heung Min Son added a second before Ceyhun Gulselam sparked a potential comeback, but Karim Bellarabi who was continuously frustrated against Mainz on the last match day scored a deserved goal nineteen minutes from time to kill the game off.
FC Koln 1-2 Hertha BSC
Hamburg 2-0 Werder Bremen
Stuttgart 0-1 Augsburg
Callum Connolly, Pundit Arena