Bundesliga: Dortmund & Bayern pull ahead

Bayern easily handles Schalke.
In relegation struggles, Augsburg picks up a key win, as do Mainz and Nürnberg

BUNDESLIGA - Round 23

Borussia M'gladbach	-     Hamburger SV	     1:1 (1:0)    54,049
                       1:0  Hanke (45., Arango)
                       1:1  Arslan (56., Guerrero)

1. FC Köln	        -     Bayer Leverkusen	     0:2 (0:1)    49,000
                       0:1  L. Bender (16., Corluka)
                       0:2  L. Bender (50., Renato Augusto)

VfB Stuttgart	        -     SC Freiburg	     4:1 (2:1)    46,000
                       1:0  Harnik (12., Sakai)
                       2:0  Okazaki (21., Harnik)
                       2:1  Diagné (27., Jendrisek)
                       3:1  Boulahrouz (63., Ibisevic)
                       4:1  Harnik (82., Hajnal)

1. FSV Mainz 05	        -     1. FC Kaiserslautern   4:0 (3:0)    34,000
                       1:0  Zidan (2., N. Müller)
                       2:0  Szalai (17., Soto)
                       3:0  N. Müller (30., Zidan)
                       4:0  Choupo-Moting (74., Bungert)

VfL Wolfsburg	        -     1899 Hoffenheim	     1:2 (0:1)    23,921
                       0:1  Firmino (2., Vukcevic)
                       1:1  Helmes (69., penalty, M. Schäfer)
                       1:2  Schipplock (84., Firmino)

FC Augsburg	        -     Hertha BSC Berlin	     3:0 (0:0)    29,123
                       1:0  Oehrl (61., Koo)
                       2:0  Oehrl (63., Koo)
                       3:0  M. Ndjeng (90. + 2, Reinhardt)

Werder Bremen           -   1. FC Nürnberg           0:1 (0:0)    40,000
                       0:1  Esswein (65., Hegeler)

Sunday matches:

Bayern München	        -   FC Schalke 04            2:0 (1:0)    69,000
                       1:0  Ribery (36., Luiz Gustavo)
                       2:0  Ribery (55., Müller)

Borussia Dortmund	-   Hannover 96              3:1 (1:0)    80,720
                       1:0  Lewandowski (27., Piszczek)
                       2:0  Lewandowski (54., Blaszczykowski)
                       2:1  Ya Konan (60., M. Diouf)
                       3:1  Perisic (90. + 2, Blaszczykowski)


 1  Borussia Dortmund (M)   23 	  16 	4    3 	    50:15  +35 	    52
 2  Bayern München	    23 	  15 	3    5 	    51:14  +37 	    48
 3  Borussia M'gladbach	    23 	  14 	5    4 	    37:14  +23 	    47
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 4  FC Schalke 04 (P)	    23 	  14 	2    7 	    50:30  +20 	    44
----------------------------------------------------------------------
 5  Bayer Leverkusen	    23 	  10 	7    6 	    34:29  +5 	    37
 6  Werder Bremen	    23 	  10 	6    7 	    37:37   0 	    36
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 7  Hannover 96	  	    23 	  8 	10   5 	    28:30  -2 	    34
 8  VfB Stuttgart	    23 	  8 	5    10	    37:33  +4 	    29
 9  1899 Hoffenheim	    23 	  7 	8    8 	    26:27  -1 	    29
10  1. FC Nürnberg	    23 	  8 	4    11     22:32  -10 	    28
11  1. FSV Mainz 05	    23 	  6 	9    8 	    34:36  -2 	    27
12  Hamburger SV	    23 	  6 	9    8 	    28:38  -10 	    27
13  VfL Wolfsburg	    23 	  8 	3    12     28:44  -16 	    27
14 1. FC Köln	  	    23 	  7 	3    13     30:45  -15 	    24
15 FC Augsburg (N)	    23 	  4 	9    10     23:37  -14 	    21
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16  Hertha BSC Berlin (N)   23 	  4 	8    11     25:40  -15 	    20
----------------------------------------------------------------------
17  1. FC Kaiserslautern    23 	  3 	9    11     16:32  -16 	    18
18  SC Freiburg	  	    23 	  4 	6    13     28:51  -23 	    18

Gladbach opened up strong against Hamburg, but was lucky on their goal just before halftime. Arango sent a freekick into the box, and Hanke was offsides, but knocked the ball in anyway. Surprise! The ref allowed the goal and the hosts had a deserved half-time lead. However in the 2nd half, HSV began quickly to assert themselves and Gladbach was pushed back, no longer looking like the top club. Arslan got an equalizer, and the rest of the match was an even affair, ending in an equitable draw.

Köln and Leverkusen battled in a Rhein derby. The Aspirins were desperate to erase the memory of the embarassing 1-4 home defeat in the previous encounter and were successful for the most part. 1. FC Köln was engaged and energetic, and despite falling behind was pressing for an equalizer. Bayer was a little more clever and Lars Bender’s double give them an important “recovery” win.

A total bitch-slapping in the southwestern derby between Mainz and Kaiserslautern. FCK has been the top club in the southwest forever, but the tide is turning, at least on the field. Mainz dominated from start to finish against the weak visitors, and should have put to rest any worries about relegation. Mohamed Zidan keeps his record in tact in scoring in every game since his return during the winterbreak.

Wolfsburg completely sucked against Hoffenheim and Felix Magath would pull out his hair if he had any. The VWs were lame from the start, and Hoffenheim could have scored half-a-dozen. The Hoppers are usually pretty crap themselves, so it took a while for the “Hey, we can totally win this” to sink in. Nevertheless, a deserved win, coach Markus Babbel’s second in Wolf-town this season (first with Hertha).

King Otto has a lot of work to do in Berlin. Augsburg thrashed Hertha in a critical relegation 6 pointer. Well, actually, it was FCA having an edge and then turning on the juice in the 2nd half in a match that made the difference, a double by former Werder reserve Torsten Oehrl deciding. Augsburg has been fighting hard all season with a minimum talent squad, and have been getting draws. But this win puts them on the right track and gives hope of surviving. Hertha is in serious trouble, having lost seven straight.

Stuttgart and Freiburg met in a hotly contested southern derby. One might expect this to be one-sided. Despite the final score, SCF gave a good account of themselves in the first half at least. Continuing their Jeckyl and Hyde season, Stuttgart played well and put Freiburg to the sword in the 2nd period. With this defeat, things continue to look grim for the Breisgauer, but with Hertha and FCK sucking, it’s not over.

Bremen showed once again that you can’t take them seriously this season. They were largely flat against a disciplined 1. FC Nürnberg and eventually paid the price. Despite controlling most of ball possession, they couldn’t really threaten the guest’s goal. Werder missed a golden chance to take the lead on the hour. Marin chested down just inside the box wide open, but put his shot over the net. Then, as often happens, a FCN couterattack had Esswein wide open on the back side, and he slotted home. bremen reacted with wild attacks, and were almost rewarded in injury time when the ball was cleared off the line. A somewhat lucky win for Nürnberg, but ultimately Werder was too clumsy

Bayern München hosted Schalke in the top match and it was one-way football, Bayern dominating. Oddly enough, pre-match polls indicated that Bayern was only favored 40%-30%, which clearly shows that Schalke fans and insane asylum inhabitants have internet access and stuffed the ballot box. Schalke was way too timid, letting Bayern come. The defense was solid, but Huntelaar was left isolated up front. Interesting for Schalke is that Timo Hildebrand started in goal, his biggest match in years as Schalke’s other two keepers are out injured. He was brilliant early, pulling off an incredible double save off Thomas Müller and Arjen Robben. Unfortunately for the Blues, Hildebrand pulled a “Manuel Neuer” as he unnecessarily raced out of the goal on a long ball. Ribery then lifted the ball over his head and then ran in for the tap in. Bad decision, as there still were Schalke defenders that could have got in position. A few minutes later Hildebrand made up for it: a brilliant hand save against Thomas Müller point blank instead the 6 yard box. Funny thing is that Bayern’s Holger Badstuber essentially helped out by getting in way of the rebound and basically clearing off the line. The 2nd half started with a bang: Badstuber headed off the bar, and on the counter, Neuer came off his line (a Hildebrand moment?), the difference was that it was Joel Matip with the ball, and he placed his shot wide of the empty Bayern net. A few minutes later, the unstoppable Ribery danced through, faked Metzelder out of his jockstrap and hammered home, essentially ending the match.

Leaders Dortmund was cruising alomg against hannover. The Neons dominated, but wasted almost all their chances. The 96ers finally woke up after an hour and got back in the match. It was fairly tight from then on, but the Dortmund held on and finished off the visitors in injury time.

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