Freiburg keep top-four hopes alive with comeback win at Werder Bremen


Roland Sallai and Lucas Höler combined as Freiburg came from behind to win at Werder Bremen and keep their UEFA Champions League qualification hopes alive.

Werder Bremen 1-2 Freiburg
Goals: 1-0 Philipp 46’ (assist: Bittencourt), 1-1 Sallai 67’ (assist: Höler), 1-2 Höler 71’ (assist: Sallai)

Despite having recently knocked Bayern Munich out of the DFB Cup, Freiburg came to the Weserstadion on a run of just one win in six league games. As such, they began the match four points outside the top four as they chased a historic maiden Champions League qualification. Werder themselves were winless in five, down in 12th. It was perhaps unsurprising, then, that the first half was a tense and rather untidy affair. Freiburg youth product Maximilian Philipp – in the side for injured division top scorer Niclas Füllkrug – saw a deflected effort go wide. At the other end, set-piece specialist Vincenzo Grifo forced the only save of the half with a free-kick that bounced awkwardly in front of Jiri Pavlenka, but was well saved by the Czech goalkeeper. Four bookings in the opening 45 minutes summed up the cagey nature of things, including for Maximilian Eggestein – on the books at Bremen for a decade – on his first return to the Weserstadion - and Sallai, who will also miss the next game against Schalke for five yellow cards.

The first 60 seconds of the second half then saw more action than the entire first 45 minutes. Freiburg were claiming a penalty when a Grifo shot from the edge of the box was blocked. Werder didn’t hang about and wait, launching the ball up field. Leonardo Bittencourt drew in the defenders before squaring for Philipp to roll home on his first start for Die Grünweißen. The ex-Freiburg man then came close to a stunning second on the hour mark, meeting Mitchell Weiser’s cross with an overhead kick that drew an equally brilliant reaction stop out of Mark Flekken from close range. It appeared to spark the visitors back to life as Sallai smashed in a Höler nod-down in the box to level proceedings. The pair then reversed roles moments later to put Freiburg ahead for the first time, the striker flicking the Hungary international’s cross into the far top corner. A return to winning ways keeps Die Breisgauer just a point off fourth. Werder are not entirely safe yet, only eight points above the bottom three with six games to go.

Match stats

  • Philipp got his first Bundesliga goal for Bremen. He’s now scored for all four clubs he’s represented in the German top flight (Freiburg, Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg).
  • Sallai finally got his first goal of the season with his 28th shot of the campaign. No player had had more attempts without scoring.
  • Höler got his fourth league goal of 2022/23, with all coming in the Rückrunde.
  • Freiburg became the 21st club to score 1,000 goals in the Bundesliga, doing so in 776 games.
  • The Black Forest club have now lost just one of nine Bundesliga visits to the Weserstadion under Christian Streich (W3, D5), who took charge of his 351st Bundesliga game here – only Otto Rehhagel, Thomas Schaaf (both for Werder) and Karlsruhe’s Winfried Schäfer have overseen more games at the helm of one club.
  • Six games without a win is Bremen’s longest drought under Ole Werner.

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Bremen: Pavlenka - Stark (Pieper 83’), Veljkovic, Friedl (c) - Weiser, Bittencourt (N. Schmidt 77‘), Groß (Gruev 75‘), Stage (R. Schmid 75‘), Jung - Philipp (Dinkci 83’), Ducksch
Unused subs: Zetterer, Buchanan, Chiarodia, Mbom
Out: Agu (patella tendon), Füllkrug (calf)
Coach: Ole Werner

Freiburg: Flekken - Kübler, Ginter, Lienhart, Günter (c) - Eggestein, Höfler - Sallai (Petersen 85'), Doan, Grifo (Jeong 85') - Höler (Sildillia 79’)
Unused subs: Uphoff, K. Schmidt, J. Schmid, Keitel, Weißhaupt, Röhl
Out: Gregoritsch (ankle), Gulde (thigh), Kyereh (cruciate ligament)
Coach: Christian Streich