USA international Zack Steffen saved a second-half penalty, but could not prevent Fortuna Düsseldorf from falling to a 2-1 defeat at home to high-flying Freiburg.
Fortuna Düsseldorf 1-2 Freiburg
Goals: 1-0 Hennings (42'), 1-1 Schmid (45'), 1-2 Waldschmidt (81')
Fortuna carried the marginally greater threat in the early exchanges as Poland international Dawid Kownacki chested tamely into the arms of Alexander Schwolow and Erik Thommy followed suit from outside the area. Thommy found more joy with a corner-kick delivery when he landed a cross on the head of Rouwen Hennings to give Fortuna the lead in the 42nd minute, but the hosts hit back almost immediately as Jonathan Schmid tucked away Freiburg captain Christian Günter’s low back-post cross on the stroke of half-time.
Thommy sent a header over from Kownacki over at the start of a far more open second period. The contest was ticking past the hour-mark when referee Daniel Siebert was notified of a possible infringement in the Fortuna area. He pointed to the penalty spot after a lengthy VAR review, but Steffen rode to Fortuna’s rescue to keep out Lucas Höler’s tame spot-kick. Kenan Karaman was denied by Schwolow as Düsseldorf sought the winner, before substitute Luca Waldschmidt thundered in an unstoppable effort at the other end to give third-placed Freiburg all three points.
- Steffen - who made 14 appearances for the Freiburg's reserves in 2016 - faced a penalty in the Bundesliga for the first time. He is the first Fortuna stopper to save a penalty in the Bundesliga since Georg Koch (1996).
- Hennings is Fortuna's top scorer this season (three); Thommy is their leading assist provider (also three).
- Waldschmidt scored his third Bundesliga goal of the season, but first from open play.
- Friedhelm Funkel and Christian Streich are the two longest-serving coaches in the Bundesliga. Funkel took the helm at Düsseldorf in March 2016, while Streich has been in charge of Freiburg since December 2011.
- Freiburg's Amir Abrashi made his first Bundesliga start since April.
Düsseldorf: Steffen - Zimmermann, Ayhan, Hoffmann, Gießelmann - Bodzek (c), Baker - Thommy (Tekpetey 68'), Karaman, Kownacki (Ampomah 76') – Hennings
Unused subs: Kastenmeier, Adams, Ofori, Pledl, Contento, Sobottka, Bormuth
Out: Barkok (shoulder), Fink (match fitness), Morales (groin), Rensing (shoulder), Stöger (cruciate ligament), Suttner (groin), Wolf (inner ear)
Coach: Friedhelm Funkel
Freiburg: Schwolow - Lienhart, Koch, Heintz - Schmid (Kübler 89'), Haberer, Höfler, Abrashi (Grifo 72'), Günter (c) - Höler (Waldschmidt 72'), Petersen
Unused subs: Thiede, Schlotterbeck, Gondorf, Borrello, Sallai, Kwon
Out: Flekken (ankle), Frantz (groin), Kath (knock)
Coach: Christian Streich