We’re into the final stretch of the season. Here are the results from Matchday 31:
Hamburg 1 – Dynamo Dresden 0
It took them 84 minutes to get it done, but Hamburg earned a hard fought victory over Dresden at the Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion on Friday evening to keep themselves firmly in the promotion fight.
Dresden came into the match on a good run of form, having taken 4 points in their previous two matches to tighten up the relegation fight, and despite having less possession (65%-35%), they tested HSV keeper Julian Pollersbeck twice in the first half. Pollersbeck did well to keep out Simon Makienok, the in-form man for Dresden at the moment, in the 12th minute and then stopped Ransford-Yeboah Königsdörffer in the 31st.
Hamburg struggled to find the final ball in the first half, with a Sonny Kittel effort in the 45th minute being their only shot on target. Makionok had another go at goal in the 57th minute, but Pollersbeck again denied him. It wasn’t until manager Dieter Hecking went to his bench in the final half hour that things started to turn in Hamburg’s favor.
Bakery Jatta nearly made an immediate impact off the bench in the 65th minute, but couldn’t get the ball past keeper Kevin Broll. Then fellow substitute Louis Schaub went close in the 72nd minute. Striker Joel Pohjanpalo then went closest of all seconds later when his header beat Broll, but caromed off the crossbar.
Jatta went close again in the 74th minute and Patrick Ebert did the same for Dresden at the other end 3 minutes later. HSV’s pressure finally paid off in the 84th minute, when Tim Leibold found space down the left, put in an inch perfect cross, and left Pohjanpalo with a simple tap in to give the visitors the lead. Dresden pushed up the other end of the pitch in the remaining minutes in a desperate attempt to find an equalizer, but Makienok couldn’t find the target despite several chances, and Hamburg held on to the final whistle.
The win vaults Hamburg up into 2nd place in the table.
Sandhausen 0 – Arminia Bielefeld 0
League leaders Bielefeld needed a rock solid defensive display to get a point against an in-form Sandhausen side at the BWT-Stadion am Hardtwald.
Though the scoreline indicates a rather dull affair, the match was intense, and it was mostly thanks to the hosts. Sandhausen were on the front foot for most of the first half and didn’t allow Bielefeld to build anything going forward. Julius Biada was the danger man for Sandhausen early, but he could only put one of his first three shots on target, and keeper Stefan Ortega handled the one that he needed to.
Bielefeld only managed 3 shots the entire 90 minutes, none on target, which reflected how good of a job Sandhausen did to frustrate them. Fabian Klos was the only Bielefeld attacker who looked dangerous, but even he couldn’t find the target on this day.
There were some nervy moments for Bielefeld in the second half. Shortly after Ortega saved a Dennis Diekmeier effort to his right, Sandhausen center-back Aleksandr Zhirov missed the opener by inches when he headed just wide from the resulting corner kick. Mario Engels then went close in the final 10 minutes, but he couldn’t get past Ortega either.
Bielefeld were happy with the point considering their performance on the day, but the league leaders had only 1 win in their last 6 matches at this point.
Heidenheim 4 – Jahn Regensburg 1
Heidenheim kept themselves firmly in the promotion fight with a comprehensive win over Regensburg at the Voith-Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Heidenheim have one of the best home records in the league this season and it took them just 2 minutes to open the scoring in this match. Regensburg keeper Alexander Meyer stopped Jonas Föhrenbach’s stinging free kick, but the rebound went right to Robert Leipertz’s feet for an easy finish. Meyer had to be substituted off just 4 minutes later, but not before Jann-Christopher George almost leveled things at the other end, only to be denied by the post.
Regensburg were on the front foot for the next ten or so minutes before Heidenheim began to reassert themselves and slowed things down to a more comfortable pace. The visitors couldn’t trouble Kevin Müller in the Heidenheim net for the remainder of the first half and the hosts began to take over the match in the second.
Leipertz nearly made it 2-0 in the 53rd minute, but was denied by substitute keeper Alexander Weidinger. Heidenheim pinned Regensburg back in their own half and finally found a second in the 65th minute. Marnon Busch’s cross was headed back across goal by Denis Thomalla, leaving Tim Kleindienst with a simple final header.
Regensburg made it a 1 goal match in the 75th minute when substitute, and Mainz loanee, Aaron Seydel scored from a throw in, but Kleindienst restored the two goal cushion 6 minutes later when Weidinger spilled David Otto’s shot and the striker had his second easy finish of the match. Substitute Stefan Schimmer wrapped things up in the 88th minute with a left footed strike on the counter.
The win keeps Heidenheim within 2 points of Hamburg and with matches against them and Bielefeld on the horizon, they are still very much in the running for promotion to the top flight.
Wiesbaden 2 – Holstein Kiel 1
There were big results at both ends of the table in Matchday 31, as Wiesbaden took a potentially huge win over Kiel at the Holstein-Stadion.
Any kind of result could be enormous in the relegation fight, and Wiesbaden made their intentions known early. They had several chances in the opening 10 minutes, but couldn’t find the target. Die Störche then went ahead against the run of play in the 21st minute. A free kick was headed on by Phil Neumann and center-back Hauke Wahl was on hand to push the ball over the line with his right foot.
Wiesbaden were not deterred however and they levelled things on 40 minutes. Gökhan Gül hit a free kick straight into the wall, but the ball stayed in a dangerous area due to a wet pitch. Jeremias Lorch reacted fastest and shot past keeper Ioannis Gelios to tie the score. Both sides nearly scored again before the halftime whistle, but Heinz Lindner stopped Jannik Dehm’s effort in the 41st minute, and Gelios did the same to Sascha Mockenhaupt at the other end just before the half.
The visitors jumped ahead in the 56th minute. Manuel Schäffler set up Stefan Aigner for a classy finish and Wiesbaden were deservedly ahead. Kiel dominated possession for the remainder of the match, but despite their best efforts, they were unable to find an equalizer, and Wiesbaden left with 3 points in their pocket.
They remain in the relegation zone, but they closed the gap on those above them because…
Greuther Fürth 1 – Nürnberg 0
A tightly contested Franconian Derby saw Fürth eke out a 1-0 win over Nürnberg at the Max-Morlock-Stadion.
Der Club came into the derby just 3 points above the relegation playoff spot and they showed the most urgency in the early part of the match. Robin Hack came close in the 7th minute, but keeper Sascha Burchert made the save. The sides traded chances at both ends of the pitch over the next 20 minutes, but neither could find a goal as Burchert stopped Hack again in the 19th minute.
Kleeblätter began to take control of the match later in the first half. Daniel Keita-Ruel’s 35th minute shot was just a bit too high and Marco Caligiuri did the same with a header in the 39th minute. Sebastian Ernst actually hit the bar 5 minutes into the second half, but things were looking ominous for the hosts. David Raum finally put Fürth ahead in the 56th minute, when he headed in a Julian Green cross.
Nürnberg fought valiantly and had several opportunities in the waning moments to find an equalizer, but they couldn’t find a way past Burchert. The Fürth keeper stopped headers from Felix Lohkemper and Hanno Behrens in stoppage time to preserve the clean sheet and the derby win for Kleeblätter.
Nürnberg’s loss, coupled with Wiesbaden’s win, means that there’s just 2 points between the sides heading into their Matchday 32 clash in Wiesbaden. There’s a lot on the line in that fixture.
Bochum 2 – Osnabrück 0
Bochum’s late season resurgence continued as they took a deserved away win over Osnabrück at the Stadion an der Bremer Brücke.
Both sides were looking to score early. Shortly after Bremen loanee Niklas Schmidt went close for the hosts, Danilo Soares tested keeper Philipp Kühn at the other end. Kühn made the save. Counterpart Manuel Riemann stopped an Etienne Amenyido effort in the 15th minute, sandwiched between double chances for Bochum’s Miloš Pantović.
Lila-Weiß were undone by an own goal in the 22nd minute, when Lukas Gugganig turned Jordi Osei-Tutu’s low cross into his own net. Manuel Wintzheimer nearly doubled the lead in the 31st minute, but Kühn kept the ball out.
The action continued in the second half. Riemann saved Bashkim Ajdini’s 47th minute shot and then Kühn made two saves in two minutes to deny Robert Žulj. Kühn could do nothing to stop Wintzheimer’s 68th minute bullet however and the Hamburg loanee put Bochum two goals in front.
Osnabrück had a chance to cut the lead in half when VAR awarded them an 84th minute penalty after Vasilis Lampropoulos fouled Sebastian Klaas in the box. But when Riemann saved Anas Ouahim’s subsequent spot kick, the result was essentially sealed.
The defeat means that Osnabrück are just 2 points above the relegation zone and still have work to do to ensure themselves of safety for next season.
Darmstadt 3 – Hannover 2
A 5th v 6th matchup at the Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor on Sunday afternoon saw Darmstadt take a last minute win over Hannover.
After a touch and go opening 20 minutes, things opened up as the hosts forced the visitors back into their own half. Patric Pfeiffer went close in the 22nd minute and leading scorer Serdar Dursun put Darmstadt ahead two minutes later, when he pounced on a rebound after Ron-Robert Zieler saved Fabian Holland’s initial shot. It was Dursun’s 14th goal of the season.
Hannover came close to an immediate equalizer, but Genki Haraguchi was denied by keeper Marcel Schuhen. Timo Hübers then went close with two headers, but was unable to find the target. Still, Die Roten kept it to a one goal margin at the half, meaning the result was still in play.
Edgar Prib has been on form for Hannover in recent matches, and he got on the scoresheet in the 47th minute. Schuhen stopped Marvin Ducksch’s initial shot, but Prib was in the right place at the right time to tuck in the rebound. Hannover upped the pressure and scored again in the 58th minute, with Ducksch managing to find a way past Schuhen this time.
But Darmstadt weren’t done. Moments after Zieler denied Dursun a brace, Fabian Schnellhardt beat the ex-German international from distance in the 62nd minute to tie the score once more. This set up a fantastic final 20 minutes that featured chances and splendid saves at both ends. Haraguchi and Cedric Teuchert went close for Die Roten while Victor Pálsson and Yannick Stark did the same for Darmstadt.
It wasn’t until the 90th minute that someone broke through and it was Pfeiffer that found the back of the net with a header from a deflected corner. Hannover couldn’t find another equalizer in the remaining moments and Darmstadt took an exciting win to consolidate 5th spot in the table.
Karlsruher 2 – Stuttgart 1
With an opportunity to close on Bielefeld beckoning, Stuttgart instead came away with nothing in a derby matchup against Karlsruher at the Wildparkstadion.
Although Hamadi Al Ghaddioui came close with the first chance of the match in the 5th minute, KSC, needing a result desperately with Wiesbaden winning the day before, struck first in the 7th minute. Marvin Wanitzek was the scorer after being set up by Freiburg loanee Jérôme Gondorf.
Derbies are almost always intense, physical affairs, even when there are no supporters in the stands, and this was no exception. A rather chaotic 25 minutes followed the opening goal, but Stuttgart got an opportunity to tie things in the 35th minute when KSC’s Manuel Stiefler fouled Silas Wamangituka in the box. Nicolás González converted the spot kick to level things at one.
Stuttgart were in the ascendancy for the remainder of the first half, but they couldn’t get another before the halftime whistle. They went right back at it in the second half, but KSC’s Benjamin Uphoff stopped Philipp Klement’s 49th minute shot. Karlsruher gradually worked their way back into the match as the second half progressed.
It wasn’t until the 72nd minute that another goal was scored. KSC’s Lukas Fröde who sliced the ball into the net after Stuttgart failed to clear a corner. Änis Ben-Hatira nearly made it 3-1 a minute later, but he couldn’t beat keeper Gregor Kobel. Despite have a plethora of opportunities in the remaining minutes, Stuttgart struggled to trouble Uphoff in any fashion and KSC were able to see out the result for a massive 3 points.
The win takes Karlsruher out of the relegation zone on goal difference, but they are not out of the woods yet. Stuttgart meanwhile, fall to third, sandwiched between Hamburg and Heidenheim by a point apiece.
St Paul 2 – Erzgebirge Aue 1
St Pauli picked up their first win in 5 matches at the expense of Erzgebirge at the Millerntor-Stadion, and put some needed distance between themselves and the relegation zone.
It was a frantic start, with chances at both ends, but neither side could seem to put the ball on target. Kiezkicker finally seized the initiative in the 22nd minute. Matt Penney and Sebastian Ohlsson combined well down the left side, and Ohlsson’s cross was met by Dimitris Diamantakos, who hammered past keeper Martin Männel to give the hosts the lead.
Männel made a fine stop to deny Waldemar Sobota a few minutes later, but St Pauli were on the prowl for a second and they got in the 41st minute. Penney did well again and found Henk Veerman in the box. The Dutchman controlled superbly and slotted it into the far corner to double Kiezkicker’s lead. Diamantakos then had an opportunity to make it 3-0 from the penalty spot before the half, but his spot kick was straight down the middle and Männel was able to save with his feet.
Erzgebirge struggled to get back into the match for much of the second half, but they managed to put some pressure on the hosts around the 70th minute mark. Robin Himmelmann had to punch a Malcolm Cacutalua stinger away to safety, but Erzgebirge broke through via a set piece four minutes later. Sören Gonther got his head to a Philipp Riese corner and the visitors cut the lead to one.
Pascal Testroet came very close to an equalizer in stoppage time, but Himmelman was on hand to push the ball away to safety. The final whistle came moments later and St Pauli breathed a sigh of relief.
St Pauli remain 5 points above the relegation zone while Erzgebirge drop to 9th.
Arminia Bielefeld 4 – Dynamo Dresden 0
Bielefeld put an end to a sluggish run of form, and all but assured themselves of promotion to the top flight for next season, with a comprehensive thumping of Dresden at the Schüco-Arena on Monday evening.
The hosts were on the front foot early and they snatched the lead in the 10th minute through a moment in individual brilliance. Jonathan Clauss received the ball in the middle of the pitch, just outside the penalty area, and after an artistic takedown, his high arcing shot looped over keeper Kevin Broll and into the goal.
Dresden tried to get back into the match as the first half progressed. Patrick Schmidt forced a save out of Stefan Ortega on 23 minutes, but the visitors had a hard time getting anything going against a stubborn Bielefeld defense. Bielefeld had the majority of possession (57%-43%) but they couldn’t find a second goal before the halftime break.
The opening 15 minutes of the second half were tense, but Bielefeld were able to find the good form that has carried them to the top of the league this season, and they put the match to bed around the hour mark. Andreas Voglsammer’s 62nd minute screamer was his first goal since breaking his foot in January, and club captain Fabian Klos scored his league leading 19th goal of the season on the counter just four minutes later.
It just wasn’t Dresden’s night, and after Ortega denied Schmidt again in the 70th minute, it was the visitors offered little threat. Cebio Soukou nabbed Bielefeld’s fourth in the 87th minute and the final whistle moments later capped off an emphatic win for Arminia.
Bielefeld clinch a top 3 finish with the win, and all but assure themselves of automatic promotion to the Bundesliga for the 2020-21 season. They are 9 points ahead of Stuttgart with 3 matches remaining and given their respective performances this season, it’s unlikely that Bielefeld will either lose their remaining 3 matches, or that Stuttgart will win their remaining 3.
1. Arminia Bielefeld – 61 points
2. Hamburg – 53 points
3. Stuttgart – 52 points
4. Heidenheim – 51 points
14. Osnabrück – 35 points
15. Karlsruher– 33 points (-11 GD)
16. Nürnberg – 33 points (-13 GD)
17. Wiesbaden – 31 points
18. Dresden – 28 points
1. Fabian Klos (Arminia Bielefeld) – 19 goals
2. Manuel Schäffler (Wiesbaden) – 18 goals
T3. Serdar Dursun (Darmstadt) – 14 goals
T3. Tim Kleindienst (Heidenheim) – 14 goals
Key Upcoming Matches – Matchday 32 (June 16 – 18)
Heidenheim @ Fürth – Tuesday 6/16, 12:30 pm EST
Osnabrück @ Hamburg – Tuesday 6/16, 12:30 pm EST
Nürnberg @ Wiesbaden – Tuesday 6/16, 12: 30 pm EST
Karlsruher @ Jahn Regensburg – Wednesday 6/17, 12:30 pm EST
Sandhausen @ Stuttgart – Wednesday 6/17, 12:30 pm EST
Dresden @ Kiel – Thursday 6/18, 12:30 pm EST
Darmstadt @ Arminia Bielefeld – Thursday 6/18, 2:30 pm EST