bundesliga

Freiburg go second after Nicholas Höfler and Nils Petersen fire them past RB Leipzig

Nicolas Höfler and Nils Petersen were on target as Christian Streich’s Freiburg moved up to second in the table with a 2-1 win over RB Leipzig at the Schwarzwald-Stadion.

Freiburg 2-1 Leipzig
Goals: 1-0
Höfler (45’+3‘), 2-0 Petersen (90'), 2-1 Klostermann (90'+2)

Freiburg welcomed Leipzig to the Black Forest trailing the title aspirants by just a single point after getting off to their best ever season start, despite last Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Union Berlin. It was the visitors who bossed possession in the first half, though. Midweek European duty – the Saxony side beat Zenit Saint Petersburg 2-1 in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday – meant that Julian Nagelsmann shuffled his pack. One of those to benefit was Amadou Haidara, who tested home goalkeeper Mark Flekken with a first-time shot from the edge of the box early on. Germany coach Joachim Löw was in attendance and was visibly concerned when recent Die Mannschaft debutant Luca Waldschmidt pulled up injured on the half-hour, to be replaced by one of his international predecessors, Petersen. The first-half traffic continued to flow in the same direction after the change, though, and Haidara was unlucky to see another effort fizz wide of the far post. It was rather against the run of play, then, when Freiburg made it 1-0. Christian Günter got free down the left on the stroke of half-time and cut the ball back for Lucas Höler; he squared for Höfler after seeing a shot blocked, and the midfielder was left with a tap-in for his first goal of the season.

Leipzig came out for the second half initially unchanged and Timo Werner, who passed a late fitness test to play, was inches away from restoring parity when he flashed a left-footed effort over the bar. With Freiburg coming similarly close through Janik Haberer soon after, Nagelsmann had seen enough, however, and sent Christopher Nkunku and Youssuf Poulsen into the fray in quick succession. Looking to weather the coming onslaught, Streich responded in kind, bringing centre-back Nico Schlotterbeck on for goalscorer Höfler. The extra defensive cover worked well for the hosts, and their possession stats rocketed in the final half-hour. Gunter came close to making it 2-0 inside the final 15 minutes when his pace and power proved too much for Dayot Upamecano, but what could have been the Freiburg captain’s second goal of the season sailed just wide of Peter Gulacsi’s top corner. Petersen did find the bottom corner of the Leipzig goal after springing the offside trap in the 90th minute, and there was still time for Lukas Klostermann to grab a late consolation as the game ended 2-1.

Höfler's first-half tap-in got the ball rolling for Freiburg against Leipzig. - imago images/Picture Point LE

Match stats

  • Höfler’s goal was his first since a May 2018 2-0 victory over Augsburg.
  • With 17 points after nine matches and a goal-difference of +7, Freiburg are enjoying their best ever return at this stage of a season.
  • Flekken – playing in place of the injured Alexander Schwolow – kept his first ever Bundesliga clean sheet.
  • Leipzig's 3-0 defeat in Freiburg last December remains the heaviest in their Bundesliga history.
  • Die Roten Bullen are now sixth. Such is the closeness of this season’s competition, they remain just three points from the top, though.
  • Petersen grabbed his third goal of the season. He now trails Freiburg's top-scorer Waldschmidt by a single goal.

Line-ups

Freiburg: Flekken – Lienhart, Koch, Heintz – Schmid, Tempelmann (Grifo 34’), Höfler (Schlotterbeck 67’), Günter (c) – Haberer, Waldschmidt (Petersen 30’), Höler
Unused subs: Thiede, Gulde, Gondorf, Borrello, Sallai, Kwon
Out: Kübler (knee), Schwolow (thigh)
Coach: Christian Streich

Leipzig: Gulacsi – Klostermann, Upamecano, Orban (c) – Sabitzer (Nkunku 56’), Haidara, Forsberg (Poulsen 60’), Demme, Halstenberg – Lookman, Werner (Cunha 70’)
Unused subs: Mvogo, Saracchi, Ilsanker, Mukiele, Ampadu, Laimer
Out: Adams (match fitness), Konate (hip), Schick (ankle), Wolf (ankle)
Coach: Julian Nagelsmann