bundesliga

Werder Bremen: Kings of the late show

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It ain’t over until the fat lady sings at Werder Bremen, whose seven goals from the 86th minute onwards represents a Bundesliga record after five rounds of fixtures.

Promoted Bremen have scored 12 times all told, putting them second only to Sadio Mane & Co. of record champions Bayern Munich. The unheralded Niclas Füllkrug has accounted for a joint-league-leading five of them, while Werder are the only team to have scored at least twice in every game.

Bremen’s dozen goals translates into their best start to a Bundesliga season at this juncture in 14 years. They’ve scored five in the first 23 minutes of matches, but it’s their reputation as kings of the late show that has everyone talking.

Just last week, Füllkrug was on target in the 86th and 90th minute in turn a draw into a win at Bochum. Oliver Burke stepped off the bench to rescue a point against VfB Stuttgart on Matchday 2 -  the precursor to his part in an incredible comeback at Borussia Dortmund seven days later.

Trailing 2-0, Bremen snatched victory from the jaws of a first defeat of the season, courtesy of late goals from substitutes Lee Buchanan (89’), Niklas Schmidt (90’+2) and Burke (90’+5). It was the first time in history a Bundesliga team had scored three times from the 89th minute onwards, or indeed won a game when trailing by two at such a late juncture.

Burke, who also won the penalty that Füllkrug put away for his brace against Bochum, has now registered two goals and one assist - despite being restricted to 53 minutes from the bench. Füllkrug heads the pecking order in Bremen’s never-say-never forward line, followed by Marvin Ducksch. He’s yet to land, but is among the Bundesliga’s top five players for goal attempts (15).

“His qualities are clear to see: he has exceptional speed and has refined his technique in front of goal,” Bremen head coach Ole Werner said of Burke, whose case for inclusion in the starting line-up gets stronger by the week. “He's getting himself into more scoring positions. Every player in the squad needs to offer something.”

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Oliver Burke has scored two goals from as many shots on goal so far this Bundesliga season. - Imago

Whether it’s Füllkrug and Ducksch, Füllkrug and Burke or all three, 16th-placed Augsburg will have to be switched on from first to the last second at the Weser Stadion on Matchday 6. Werder – who could climb to within a point of top spot with a win, overnight at least – won’t rest until the final whistle sounds.