Promotion favourites Werder Bremen slipped off top spot after suffering their first defeat under head coach Ole Werner, losing 2-1 away to Heidenheim on Saturday.
Following draws for fellow promotion frontrunners Darmstadt and St. Pauli earlier this weekend, Bremen went into this match aware that it presented an opportunity to put daylight between themselves and the chasing pack at the top of the standings. They duly began brightly, with Leonardo Bittencourt striking the post in the 17th minute and Niclas Füllkrug and Ducksch also forcing home goalkeeper Kevin Müller to stay alert. Bremen were very much in the ascendancy and on the front foot, which made it all the more surprising when Heidenheim took the lead shortly before the interval, Christian Kühlwetter curling an unstoppable shot from 20 yards into the top corner.
Undeterred, Bremen kept plugging away in the second half, with Ducksch and Füllkrug constant thorns in the side of the Heidenheim rearguard. Yet the hosts remained dangerous on the counter, and Werder needed a brilliant save from Jiri Pavlenka to block Stefan Schimmer’s shot after he had been played through by Kevin Sessa’s defence-splitting pass. It was a warning the away side failed to heed, and shortly afterwards Heidenheim doubled their lead when Kühlwetter collected Anthony Jung’s errant pass out from the back before finding Schimmer, who prodded in from 10 yards. Bremen had scored three times in a 14-minute spell to win the reverse fixture 3-0, but there was never any indication of another goal flurry here, although Ducksch did reduce the deficit with a brilliant direct free-kick after Marnon Busch's late sending off. Heidenheim held their nerve in stoppage time, though, seeing a result over the line that allows them to dream of promotion again after collecting a win that moves them to within six points of the top three.
- Kühlwetter's goal was his fourth of the season.
- Schimmer scored his 11th Bundesliga 2 goal, and first in the starting line-up.
- Heidenheim have the second best home record in this season’s Bundesliga 2 (28 points), behind St. Pauli (29).
- Bremen have now scored 37 of their 50 goals this term in the second half of their matches.
- Ducksch netted his 16th goal of the season, and 10th in 11 games under Werner.
- It was the fifth time the striker has scored a direct free-kick in Bundesliga 2, and first since January 2021.
Heidenheim: Müller - Busch (Mainka 87'), Hüsing, Siersleben, Föhrenbach (Burnic 87') - Theuerkauf - Kühlwetter (Leipertz 71'), Schöppner, Sessa (Geipl 70'), Mohr - Schimmer (Kleindienst 77')
Unused subs: Eicher, Stark, Ramusovic, Malone
Out: Rittmüller (knee)
Coach: Frank Schmidt
Bremen: Pavlenka - Mai (Rapp 46'), Veljkovic, Friedl (Agu 33') - Groß (Woltemade 83') - Weiser (Dinkci 84'), Bittencourt, Schmid (Schmidt 66'), Jung - Füllkrug, Ducksch
Unused subs: Zetterer, Chiarodia, Gruev, Mbom
Out: Plogmann (concussion), Toprak (muscle strain)
Coach: Ole Werner
Matchday 26 round-up
Darmstadt 1-1 Sandhausen
Goals: 1-0 Seydel (17’), 1-1 Kutucu (84’)
Darmstadt’s bid for promotion suffered a setback on Friday evening as they were pegged back late on by struggling Sandhausen. The hosts appeared to be on course for a third consecutive league victory when Aaron Seydel struck in the 17th minute. There were subsequently chances at both ends, but it was Sandhausen who added to the scoreline in the closing stages when substitute Ahmed Kutucu equalised to earn a valuable point for the visitors.
Hansa Rostock 3-2 Holstein Kiel
Goals: 1-0 Breier (4’), 1-1 Mühling (50’), 2-1 Verhoek (68’), 2-2 Rizzuto (71’), 3-2 Behrens (81’)
Hansa Rostock earned three potentially priceless points in their survival bid, taking the lead three times in a topsy-turvy encounter at home to fellow strugglers Kiel on Friday. Pascal Breier gave Rostock the lead as early as the fourth minute, but it was cancelled out shortly after the restart through Alexander Mühling. Veteran forward John Verhoek restored the home side’s advantage shortly afterwards, but a Calogero Rizzuto own goal three minutes later drew Kiel level once more. However, Hanno Behrens had the final word as the final whistle approached to seal a victory that lifted Rostock above Kiel in the standings.
Dynamo Dresden 1-1 St. Pauli
Goals: 1-0 Daferner (20’), 1-1 Makienok (42’)
Promotion candidates St. Pauli came from behind to draw with relegation-threatened Dynamo Dresden. Christoph Daferner gave Dynamo the lead in Guerino Capretti’s first game as head coach, before spurning chances to add to the lead either side of the half-hour mark. Simon Makienok headed in an equaliser, but Pauli needed another big save from Nikola Vasilj to ensure parity at the break. The second period was largely all Pauli, though, with the woodwork saving Dresden on four occasions. Despite the result, Timo Schultz’s team remain in the top three. Dresden move to within three points of outright safety.
Paderborn 1-1 Fortuna Düsseldorf
Goals: 0-1 Hartherz (43’), 1-1 Schallenberg (90’+3)
Fortuna Düsseldorf were left ruing what might have been after conceding a stoppage-time equaliser away to Paderborn, depriving them of what would have been three priceless points in their quest to pull clear of the relegation zone. It looked to be the visitors’ day after Paderborn striker Felix Platte had a penalty saved in the 39th minute, before Florian Hartherz put a depleted Düsseldorf side in front just before half-time. However, the hosts pushed for an equaliser in the second period and levelled matters deep into injury time through Ron Schallenberg’s header. Paderborn even grabbed what they thought was an unlikely winner via substitute Dennis Srbeny, but it was disallowed for a foul in the build-up, ultimately leaving Fortuna thankful that Lady Luck was on their side as they returned home grateful for a point.
Ingolstadt 0-3 Schalke
Goals: 0-1 Zalazar (55'), 0-2 Thiaw (71'), 0-3 Drexler (81')
Schalke started life under caretaker coach Mike Büskens with a resounding 3-0 win in Ingolstadt, to get their promotion challenge back on track. The only surprise was that Simon Terodde's name was not among the scorers, though he did hit the crossbar in the 11th minute. Schalke then had to wait until the same time of the second half to go in front with Rodrigo Zalazar picking up the loose ball after Terodde's shot was blocked, and sweeping it in. Malick Thiaw doubled their lead by converting a corner from Zalazar, with a deflection helping the ball in, and Dominick Drexler completed the win to convert another Zalazar assist with ten minutes to go.
Watch: Ingolstadt 0-3 Schalke - in 60 seconds!
Karlsruhe 1-1 Regensburg
Goals: 1-0 Beste (31'), 1-1 Hofmann (70')
Karlsruhe remained ahead of Regensburg in the standings after coming from behind to secure a draw at the BBBank Wildpark. The hosts had the better of the early exchanges, but it was Regensburg who drew first blood when Jan-Niklas Beste was put through on goal and kept his cool to lift the ball over Gersbeck and in. The guests gained in confidence after the goal, but they could not turn the screw and paid the price midway through the second half when Philipp Hofmann levelled. He met Heise's corner with a powerful header for his 11th goal of the season to earn Karlsruhe a point.
Hannover 0-3 Nuremberg
Goals: 0-1 Schleimer (26'), 0-2 Krauß (83'), 0-3 Shuranov (87')
Nuremberg threw their hats into the ring for promotion to the Bundesliga with a 3-0 win at Hannover, a result which, combined with the top three all dropping points, saw them narrow the gap on top spot to just three points. Lukas Schleimer put the visitors in front when he tucked the ball in at full stretch, and he almost added a second before half-time when his header hit the crossbar. Hannover tried to find a route back into the game, but Nuremberg struck clinically as the game entered into its final few minutes, Tom Krauß doubling their lead with an unstoppable drive before Erik Shuranov wrapped up victory in a one-against-one situation with Ron-Robert Zieler.
Hoffenheim part company with Hoeneß
Hoffenheim have parted company with head coach Sebastian Hoeneß after two years at the helm.
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