Munich - It was another day of drama in the Bundesliga on Matchday 28 as VfL Wolfsburg kept alive their UEFA Champions League ambitions with a victory that leaves Eintracht Frankfurt not yet out of the relegation woods, while Bayer 04 Leverkusen dropped points in their own quest for a top-four finish.
bundesliga.com rounds up the Saturday afternoon action...
VfL Wolfsburg 2-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
VfL Wolfsburg celebrated a dramatic late win thanks to defender Naldo's stunning effort that gave them a 2-1 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt, who continue to look cautiously over their shoulder in the league's nether regions.
Wolfsburg were able to welcome back Kevin De Bruyne from suspension after his red card on Matchday 26, but it was Frankfurt that came racing out of the blocks in the Volkswagen Arena. After Martin Lanig’s header from Constant Djakpa’s cross had been ruled out for offside, the Eagles deservedly went in front when Stefan Aigner burst through to calmly finish past Max Grün.
In the second half the hosts appealed for an equaliser when the back-tracking Trapp collected an incoming cross on his goalline, with the officials correctly deciding against awarding a goal, but if Dieter Hecking’s men felt hard done by, they were given a reprieve soon afterwards when Joselu fired home, only to be denied by another raised flag.
It proved to be a turning point, as the up until then subdued De Bruyne produced a superb piece of play to cross for Ivica Olic, who poked in a leveller. And with a minute of normal time remaining, the Wolves won it in quite sensational style, as Naldo unleashed a rocket from all of 35 yards to leave Trapp grasping at thin air and the Wolves celebrating a perfect end to the week.
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Bayer 04 Leverkusen 1-1 Eintracht Braunschweig
Eintracht Braunschweig's survival bid was given fresh impetus after Ken Reichel's brilliant volley gave them a share of the spoils against a below-par Bayer 04 Leverkusen at the BayArena.
Bayer’s midweek win in Augsburg was their first league victory in nine games in all competitions, and the hosts began the encounter determined to build on the result, with Andres Guardado - playing in midfield - flashing a half-volley just wide of the post and Gonzalo Castro sending a free-kick just off target. Braunschweig then got to grips with their defensive task, however, and up until the break shackled the home side completely.
If the first half had been uneventful, the second period began in a manner that was anything but. The Lions went in front in spectacular fashion when left-back Reichel thundered in a brilliant first-time volley from a tight angle, but their perfect start was soured when Marcel Correia needlessly handled in the box, allowing Stefan Kießling to equalise from the penalty spot.
The visitors would have been disappointed to concede their advantage so meekly, but thereafter they displayed all the fighting qualities that ensure they still have a fighting chance of beating the drop. They might even have won it had Bernd Leno not saved well from Mirko Boland, but the point - their fourth against Bayer this season - will be welcome reward for Torsten Lieberknecht’s men.
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1. FSV Mainz 05 3-0 FC Augsburg
Mainz came out on top in the battle of the Bundesliga surprise packages on Saturday afternoon with a deserved 3-0 victory over fellow European hopefuls FC Augsburg.
Both sides slipped up in their efforts to nail down a top-six finish midweek, and accordingly began ferociously at the Coface Arena, determined to make amends. After resting several first team regulars on Tuesday, home coach Thomas Tuchel restored his far eastern trio of Joo-Ho Park, Ja-Cheol Koo and Shinji Okazaki to the starting XI and the hosts looked strong as they pushed for an early lead. Augsburg competed well initially, but Niko Bungert’s delicate flick from a corner in the 23rd minute - his first goal in over two years - put Mainz in front.
Only one winner
The hosts increased their lead in bizarre fashion before the break after the visitors failed to deal with Maxim Choupo-Moting’s shot. The ball rebounded off the post and when Matthias Ostrzolek tried to hoof it away, his powerful clearance hit goalkeeper Marwin Hitz square in the face, knocking him to the floor and diverting the ball over the line. There was little to see of Augsburg at the other end though, allowing Mainz to dominate much of the match with ease.
The onus was on Augsburg to take the game by the scruff of the neck and although they tried to open up the play down the wings, Mainz’s compact midfield and defence prevented them from making much progress. Not that Mainz were merely running down the clock. Urged on by an animated Tuchel on the sidelines, the 05ers crowned a disciplined display when Johannes Geis’ long-range effort flew into the net to put the result beyond any doubt and move - temporarily at least - above Borussia Mönchengladbach into sixth.
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