The top of the table is starting to look out of reach for some squads as the final third of the season approaches. Here are the results from Matchday 22:
Heidenheim 2 – Nürnberg 2
Nürnberg have been on better form over the past few matchdays and they forced hosts Heidenheim to come from behind twice in order to gain a point at the Voith-Arena on Friday evening.
The visitors took the lead with their first real attack of the match. Captain Hanno Behrens set up teammate Nikola Dovedan who scored against his former club and gave his current one a first minute lead. This would be an entertaining back-and-forth affair as both squads created multiple chances for themselves. Heidenheim captain Marc Schnatterer beat keeper Christian Mathenia in the 29th minute, only to see Arsenal loanee Konstantinos Mavropanos clear the ball off the line.
But Heidenheim managed to level things at the stroke of halftime. Schnatterer’s cross found Tim Kleindienst in the box and although Mathenia saved his initial effort, the striker tucked away the rebound to tie the match.
Behrens put Nürnberg back in front in the 62nd minute after good work from Norwich loanee Philip Heise and center-back Georg Margreitter then put the ball in the net in the 70th minute for an apparent 3-1, but the officials, after a brief VAR consultation, wiped it off due to offside. Kleindienst then equalized for the second time in the match, tucking the ball just under the crossbar from a Tobias Mohr corner in the 83rd minute.
Michael Frey almost snatched all 3 points for Nürnberg at the death, but he couldn’t find the target, so both sides had to make due with a solitary point on the day.
St Pauli 0 – Dynamo Dresden 0
Dresden keeper Kevin Broll was the man of the match in a scoreless draw at the Millerntor-Stadion.
With the visitors seemingly content to play behind the ball and look for opportunities on the counter, St Pauli controlled the majority of possession (65%-35%) and put 8 shots on target, but couldn’t find a way past Broll. The keeper turned a Ryo Miyaichi shot against the post and out in the 15th minute, then clawed a Henk Veerman shot off the line after it was deflected past him.
Dresden succeeded in bogging the match down in the second half and there were relatively few chances until the final minutes. In one of their few forays forward, Dresden won a penalty in the 84th minute when full-back Chris Löwe went down in the box. But, in a situation that makes German fans very happy to have VAR up and running in their leagues, referee Daniel Schlager reversed his decision upon seeing the replay, and instead booked Löwe for diving.
The feisty affair ended scoreless as Miyaichi’s last second shot struck the woodwork.
Dresden were happy to get a point, but remain bottom of the table, while St Pauli are only 5 points ahead of them.
Arminia Bielefeld 4 – Greuther Fürth 2
The league leaders continued their fine form since the winter break, taking all 3 points away at the Sportpark Ronhof Thomas Sommer on Saturday afternoon.
Unlike other squads who tried to sit back and absorb pressure from the league leaders, Kleeblätter tried to take it to Bielefeld in the early going, but unfortunately for the hosts, they ran smack into an in-form side and once they get going, they are very difficult for anyone in the division to stop. Cédric Brunner opened the scoring for the visitors in the 13th minute, when he outjumped his marker and headed in Cebio Soukou’s cross from the left.
After failing to score in their 6-0 rout against Regensburg in Matchday 21, you knew league leading scorer Fabian Klos would be looking to find the back of the net against Fürth and he did so on 35 minutes. Marcel Hartel’s through ball was inch perfect and Klos timed his run to perfection to stay just onside, as VAR would confirm afterward. The striker then wrong-footed keeper Sascha Burchert and passed the ball calmly into the net for his 15th of the season.
VAR chalked off a third Bielefeld goal early in the second half due to an offside in the buildup, but it was only a matter of time and it came in the 66th minute when Burchert fouled Klos in the penalty area. Burchert caught an elbow to the jaw at the same moment he brought down the big striker to add injury to insult. Soukou scored the penalty and it appeared that Bielfeld were on their way to a comfortable win.
Håvard Nielsen made the final 15 minutes interesting however, when he split the Bielefeld defense and prodded past keeper Stefan Ortega to cut the deficit to 2. Fürth center-back Paul Jaeckel then scored in the 77th minute with a top class strike…into his own net. Kenny Prince Redondo scored a consolation goal for his side in stoppage time, but it was too little, too late for the hosts.
Bielefeld remain unbeaten in 2020 and at the top of the table, while fall for the second consecutive matchday.
Jahn Regensburg 1 – Wiesbaden 0
Hosts Regensburg bounced back from their drubbing at the hands of Bielefeld the week before and took a narrow win over Wiesbaden at the Continental Arena.
It was cagey affair in Bavaria, as the sides combined for more fouls than shots in the 90 minutes. Andreas Albers had a good chance in the early minutes, only to be denied by Wiesbaden midfielder Sebastian Mrowca. Tobias Schwede then flashed a shot just wide of the post at the other end moments later.
Wiesbaden talisman Manuel Schäffler put the ball in the net in the 16th minute, but VAR chalked it off as the striker was just offside in the buildup.
The match’s only goal came early in the second half. Albers got past the Wiesbaden defense and squared the ball across goal away from the keeper, giving Erik Wekesser a clear path to fire the ball into the net just ahead of his marker. Wiesbaden substitute Törles Knöll had a glorious chance to equalize late in the second half, but his dragged shot curved around the far post.
Regensburg remain in the top half of the table, while Wiesbaden are in 16th.
Hannover 1 – Hamburg 1
A battle of division heavyweights at the HDI-Arena saw Hannover come within seconds of a big upset win, only for visiting Hamburg to secure a point at the death.
Rain the previous evening resulted in a wet playing surface, and as a consequence chances were hard to come by in the opening half. HSV went closest, but Sonny Kittel could only head Tim Leibold’s cross harmlessly over the bar.
Business picked up in the second half and Die Roten grabbed the lead just 6 minutes after the restart. Hamburg allowed Linton Maina far too much time to put in a good cross and the ball found striker Cedric Teuchert in the area, who scored with his second attempt after keeper Daniel Heuer Fernandes stopped his initial effort.
HSV nearly responded immediately, but Bakery Jatta somehow couldn’t put the ball in an open net from 10 yards out and then Louis Schaub had a shot cleared off the line by the Hannover defense shortly thereafter. Kittel again missed high in the 73rd minute and it looked like the hosts would be able to see remainder of the match out, but Leverkusen loanee Joel Pohjanpalo had other ideas.
The visitors won a corner in the last moments of second half stoppage time and the Finnish international rose highest to head in Kittel’s corner to salvage a point for Hamburg and disappoint the thousands of Hannover supporters in attendance.
The draw sees Hamburg drop 3 points behind Bielefeld at the top, while Hannover are still stuck in the bottom half of the table.
Karlsruher 1 – Osnabrück 1
Hosts KSC were cruelly denied their first win since November as fellow newbies Osnabrück stole a point late, despite playing the majority of the match with 10 men.
Karlsruher had the balance of play early on, with striker Babacar Guèye creating several chances, only for the Lila-Weiß defense, and keeper Philipp Kühn, to block the way. They lost one of the key playmakers to injury early when Marc Lorenz had to be substitute in the 13th minute, but they continued to press forward.
The match came to an abrupt halt in the 29th minute in a scary scene. Osnabrück striker Assan Ceesay raised his foot to try and clear away a KSC corner, but inadvertently caught KSC full-back Dirk Carlson straight in the head. Despite no malicious intent, the referee had little choice but to award KSC a penalty and send Ceesay off with a straight red. Carlson had to be taken off on a stretcher and to make matters worse, Marvin Wanitzek shot the penalty straight at Kühn, who saved easily.
Leading scorer Philipp Hoffman finally gave KSC the lead just before halftime, but despite their man advantage, the hosts couldn’t find the target again in the match. As a result, they let Lila-Weiß hang around and just moments after KSC keeper Benjamin Uphoff saved Moritz Heyer’s header from a corner, Osnabrück duly scored the equalizer through Marcos Álvarez.
It’s a tough draw for KSC, who were nevertheless able to get out of the direct relegation zone with the point, but both they, and Osnabrück, are yet to win in 2020.
Darmstadt 1 – Sandhausen 0
Darmstadt took their second consecutive league win and ran their unbeaten run to 6 matches by outlasting Sandhausen at the Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor on Sunday afternoon.
The hosts came out firing early on, with Yannick Stark forcing Sandhausen keeper Martin Fraisl into a sprawling save in the opening minutes. Denis Linsmayer then nearly scored at the other end moments later, but his dropkick shot from an extremely tight angle sailed harmlessly over the bar. This was to be a recurring theme for the visitors as they put themselves in good positions to score, but were unable to put the final ball on target.
Darmstadt are one of the most dangerous teams in the league on set pieces and leading scorer Serdar Dursun just missed the opener off a flicked on corner late in the first half. Sandhausen did not heed the warning however and Darmstadt seized the lead off another corner in the 59th minute. This time, center-back Immanuel Höhn was unmarked and left Fraisl with no chance.
Just 3 minutes later however, the center-back went in with a high boot on Sandhausen’s Aziz Bouhaddouz and was deservedly dismissed with his second yellow card. But ultimately Sandhausen could do nothing with their man advantage. The closest they came was in the final 10 minutes, when Aleksandr Zhirov sent a header toward goal, but it was yanked over the bar by Darmstadt’s Fabian Holland.
The win moves Darmstadt into the top half of the table, while Sandhausen have now lost 3 straight.
Holstein Kiel 2 – Erzgebirge Aue 1
Visiting Kiel held off Erzgebirge at the Erzgebirgsstadion, consigning the East Germans to their third loss in 4 matches thus far in 2020.
Pascal Testroet tested Kiel keeper Ioannis Gelios early, but the Greek keeper punched it away strongly. Die Störche then had their own chance at the other end with a cleverly worked corner routine. Center-back Hauke Wahl beat his marker and headed the ball across the goalmouth to where two of his teammates were waiting at the back post, but Lee Jae-sung could only steer the fast moving ball into the side netting.
But just moments after Gelios made another fine stop, this time pushing Jan Hochscheidt’s shot around the far post with his fingertips, Kiel took the lead in the 42nd minute. Left-back Johannes van den Bergh’s angled ball found an onrushing Salih Özcan and the Köln loanee carefully steered his shot around keeper Martin Männel and in off the far post.
Düsseldorf loanee Emmanuel Iyoha then doubled the visitors lead in the 63rd minute. He received Lee’s cutback in the middle of the penalty area, controlled the ball away from a defender, then turned and got off a shot with his left foot that was deflected past a helpless Männel by center-back Louis Samson.
Needing to get back into the match, substitute Dimitrij Nazarov made an almost instant impact for Erzgebirge. After heading narrowly wide with his first attempt, Nazarov scored from a ferocious volley that Gelios could do nothing to stop. Erzgebirge then nearly levelled in the waning moments when Hochscheidt’s header landed at the feet of substitute Christoph Daferner, but the Freiburg loanee wasn’t expecting the ball to come his way and couldn’t corral it before it trickled out of play.
Kiel’s third consecutive league win takes them up to 5th in the table.
Stuttgart 1 – Bochum 0
A late second half goal was enough for Stuttgart to take a vital away win at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion and keep pace with the other teams at the top of the table.
The first 45 minutes were all Stuttgart, but Bochum keeper Manuel Riemann kept his side in the hunt by making a series of excellent stops, including efforts from Gonzalo Castro and Daniel Didavi. Silas Wamangituka had two big chances, but missed by a matter of inches both times.
Bochum were not without chances of their own during the second half, but Stuttgart maintained the possession advantage (63%-37%) and kept the hosts pinned in their own half for long stretches. Riemann saved again from Didavi in the 65th minute, but Stuttgart finally broke through in the 80th minute through substitute Hamadi Al Ghaddioui. Wamangituka did the dirty work in the build-up and left his teammate with a relatively easy shot from range.
The hosts nearly managed an equalizer in stoppage time, but Stuttgart keeper Gregor Kobel made a fantastic save to keep out substitute Robert Žulj and preserve the win for his side.
Stuttgart remain 3rd, level on points with Hamburg, and 3 adrift of Bielefeld.
1. Arminia Bielefeld – 44 points
2. Hamburg – 41 points (+24 GD)
3. Stuttgart – 41 points (+13 GD)
4. Heidenheim – 35 points
5. Holstein Kiel – 33 points
1. Fabian Klos (Arminia Bielefeld) – 15 goals
2. Manuel Schäffler (Wiesbaden) – 12 goals
T3. Sonny Kittel (Hamburg) – 11 goals
T3. Philipp Hofmann (Karlsruher) – 11 goals
Key Upcoming Matches – Matchday 23 (February 21 – February 24)
St Pauli @ Hamburg (HAMBURG DERBY) – Saturday 2/22, 7:00 am EST
Heidenheim @ Holstein Kiel – Saturday 2/22, 7:00 am EST
Jahn Regensburg @ Stuttgart – Saturday 2/22, 7:00 am EST
Hannover @ Arminia Bielefeld – Sunday 2/23, 7:30 am EST